‘Please wear a mask’: Saskatchewan Medical Association calls for increased vigilance

The Saskatchewan Medical Association is asking people to wear masks when physical distancing isn't possible.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association is asking people to wear masks when physical distancing isn't possible. Getty Images

To mask or not to mask? The answer to that question is pretty clear to a large group of Saskatchewan doctors.

In a recent op-ed, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) said when physical distancing isn’t possible, people should wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“On behalf of the physicians of Saskatchewan, I am calling on you to increase your defence against this virus,” SMA president Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz wrote.

Read more: Anti-mask rallies held in Saskatchewan as COVID-19 cases rise

Konstantynowicz calls on people to abide by the same rules that have been in place since the start of the pandemic: limit social interactions, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands frequently.

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If you can, please wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible,” she said.

More than 90 per cent of Saskatchewan’s physicians are members of the SMA, according to the association’s website.

Konstantynowicz notes the province recently had its highest daily number of new cases since the start of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the province reported 60 new cases — a record high.

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“Like everywhere across the globe, we are seeing the silent, lurking and near-instantaneous impact and spread of COVID-19 on populations,” the Regina-based family physician said.

“The cost of illness and the cost to our economy demand that we must all do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Health officials across the country have said masks are an effective tool for reduce the spread. Health Canada recommends wearing one when maintaining distance is a challenge.

Read more: Saskatchewan nurses’ union calls for mandatory masks

A Saskatoon epidemiologist said wearing a mask is about reciprocity.

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“In a way it’s a social contract… that we are learning that we should be practicing in order to protect all of us,” Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine told Global News.

“I wear a mask to protect those around me and I’m hoping by doing so, other people will be wearing a mask to protect me.”

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) has been calling on the province since last week to mandate mask use.

“This needs to happen,” SUN president Tracy Zambory previously told Global News. “There should be no questions asked.”

Saskatchewan health officials have said they not considering making masks mandatory.

Support for mandatory masking lower in Sask. than other provinces
Support for mandatory masking lower in Sask. than other provinces

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.