• After long discouraging the use of face masks, Legault said Tuesday that they could help wearers avoid spreading the virus.
  • In the United States, the CDC has asked Americans to wear non-medical masks in dense areas.

At his daily press conference Tuesday, Premier François Legault admitted that "yes, it could help to add a mask for the citizens to avoid spreading the virus." He stopped short of encouraging the practice. But the statement comes after public health officials, including Dr. Horacio Arruda, had long discouraged mask-wearing by the general population, arguing that they offer a false sense of security and should be reserved for health care professionals.

Legault made sure to underline that last point, stressing that it's important to maintain a stock of equipment for hospital workers.

He made further clear that wearing a mask serves "not to protect oneself but to protect others" from potential exposure and should supplement, not replace other public health guidelines.

In the United States, public health officials have begun asking people to wear masks in public.

On its website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) "recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."

Similar instructions don't exist in Quebec, Legault says, in part because it's "not part of the culture."

In Japan, for example, "when someone has the flu or a cold, out of respect for others, they wear a mask. It's part of their culture.

"But for us, it could seem strange."

Legault's comments come one day after Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, also said that homemade masks could help in the fight against the virus.

"Wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you," she said in her daily briefing.

"In particular, it can lower risks of respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces."

The United States Surgeon General even made a video to show how to make a homemade mask.

Authorities on both sides of the border, however, say that surgical and N95 masks should always be kept for professionals.

Stay tuned for more news.

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