Manitoba has not yet changed its stance on how many masks people should be wearing in the province amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but experts say wearing more than one at a time could be beneficial in some cases.
Earlier this week, the top public health official in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggested wearing two masks is more effective.
“So, if you have a physical covering with one layer, if you put another layer on it, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci said on Monday
Dr. Anand Kumar, A Winnipeg infectious disease and critical care specialist, has been studying the effectiveness of masks.
Kumar agrees, wearing two masks can be more effective, as it provides another layer to help reduce the amount of particles being spread from someone’s mouth when they talk, sneeze and cough.
“If you have a second mask you get more benefit because you trap more particles,” Kumar said.
While Kumar is not recommending all Manitobans wear more than one mask at a time, he said it’s not a bad idea for people using lower-quality masks to consider.
“If you get a good quality mask, you don’t need to double it,” he said “If it’s a poor quality mask, maybe you double it.”
Kumar said the best quality masks would be medical-grade disposable masks, such as the ones doctors and nurses wear in a medical setting.
The worst and least effective masks, in his opinion, would have less than three layers of fabric.
“If you’ve only got one or two layers, then definitely double that up,” he said. “On the other hand, if you have three or more layers, you’re probably pretty good.”
Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said public health is not encouraging double-masking yet.
“Right now, at this point, we’re not making that specific recommendation,” he said at a press conference on Friday, adding that mask-wearing is still very important.
Kumar believes masking will become even more important in the days and months ahead with new COVID-19 variants circulating.
“Mask wearing is going to be particularly important, much more so than I think the common person is thinking.”