COVID-19 medical masks and respirators: Overview

Medical masks and respirators are essential during the COVID-19 outbreak. They help:

  • protect health care providers
  • slow the spread of the disease

Medical masks (including surgical and procedure masks) and respirators (like N95 respirators) must be kept for:

  • health care providers
  • others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients

Both masks and respirators need to be used with appropriate eye protection (for example, face shield or goggles) to achieve full protection of the eyes, nose and mouth.

There are a number of different types of masks and respirators. They each have a particular use in a particular setting. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) website provides:

  • definitions for respirators and masks
  • information about non-medical masks and face coverings for the general public

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented demand for certain supplies, including medical masks and respirators. We are responding to this increased demand by:

  • purchasing additional supplies
  • supporting increased domestic production
  • proposing strategies to address shortages
  • implementing pathways to expedite the authorization of these devices
  • supporting health care facilities by providing guidance to extend the use of N95 respirators through reprocessing


Source: Government of Canada

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