It’s part of the Public Health Order – “All persons shall wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth when in… enclosed settings (including) addiction treatment centres, complex care centres, health centres, hospitals, mental health centres, residential treatment centres or special-care homes designated pursuant to The Provincial Health Authority Act.”
It is extremely important – and actually required – for those who are visiting and supporting loved ones in hospitals or other health care facilities to comply with the public health order in regards to masks, as COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who have symptoms, as well as those who are infectious but not symptomatic in the two days before symptoms develop.
“It’s so very important that those who come into our facilities wear a mask to protect others but also themselves,” explains Katherine Stevenson, Director of Quality and Safety for the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “We recognize the importance of ensuring patients have the support of their loved ones, even during the pandemic. Keeping spread low helps us keep visitation and family presence as open as possible. When masking and other precautions like distancing and hand hygiene aren’t followed by the whole team, including family and supports, everyone from our patients to our healthcare workforce and other visitors are put at risk.”
Universal masking within SHA facilities was implemented in fall 2020, and directs all staff and physicians to wear masks everywhere in any health care facility, with very few exceptions. This is now true as well for any family or caregivers who are entering our facilities. Medical masks will be provided at the doors to all those entering the facility.
“Having everyone, regardless of whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, wear a medical mask over their mouth and nose prevents droplet and aerosol spread of COVID-19,” explained Stevenson. “This decreases the possibility that anyone with unrecognized infection will expose others and helps to keep everyone safer.”
Masks are only one piece of the puzzle in terms of preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand washing and disinfecting are other pieces and when used together, they minimize risk.