COVID-19 medical masks and respirators: Overview

Find information on the requirements for getting medical devices authorized in Canada on the medical devices page.

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:

Medical masks and respirators are essential during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there are important differences between them. Masks are loose-fitting, while respirators are tight-fitting around the nose and mouth. As repirators create a seal to prevent air leakage, they are considered a form of respiratory protection. Although medical masks may offer some protection to the wearer, their primary purpose is to prevent cross-transmission of germs.
By filtering the air breathed in by the wearer, respirators help:

By acting as a barrier against droplets, medical masks help:

Both masks and respirators need to be used with other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as appropriate eye protection (for example, face shield or goggles) to achieve  protection of the eyes, nose and mouth. It’s important to still maintain physical distancing whenever possible. It’s also important to remember that PPE does not replace other measures such as minimizing contact, frequent hand washing, good room ventilation and filtration.

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

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