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Why you might want to start wearing better masks — even outdoors | CBC News

Why you might want to start wearing better masks — even outdoors | CBC News

Spread of more infectious coronavirus variants in Canada requires renewed vigilance, experts say.

The spread of more contagious coronavirus variants in Canada amid already high levels of COVID-19 makes it a critical time to think about the masks we wear.

Whether that means finding better quality masks, doubling up on masks, or wearing them in settings we wouldn't normally think to, experts say it's time we step up our game.

The variants first identified in South Africa and the U.K are spreading in Canada, in some cases with no known link to travel, and have already led to devastating outbreaks in long-term care homes.

The variant discovered in the U.K., known as B117, is estimated to be at least 56 per cent more transmissible and potentially more deadly than the original coronavirus strain.

But even as COVID-19 case numbers show early signs of slowing down in Canada, experts say it's becoming more important than ever to lower our risk of exposure as much as possible to prevent variants from taking hold here.

"The floodwaters are receding right now, but it's still very, very dangerous," said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases.

"If [B117] does pop up as the dominant variant here, we are going to need to really up our game in regards to masks, in regards to ... how many contacts we have in a day, because it definitely appears to have an upper hand."

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