kids face masks

Toronto sees sharp increase in DIY masks as spread of COVID-19 continues

The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Toronto hospitals as well as early hoarding attempts made by the public has drastically reduced the commercial availability of face masks. And yet, if you peek out your window in the city these days, you’ll likely notice that more people than ever seem to be wearing masks. 

That’s because as more discussion about the potential effectiveness of masks to reduce the community spread of COVID-19 ensues, many people have started to make their own. While the World Health Organization (WHO) and many governments have stated that we don’t need to wear masks, some studies reveal that if worn in conjunction with hand-washing and physical-distancing measures, they can aid in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Knowing that medical-grade PPE should absolutely be reserved for frontline healthcare workers, even some hospitals have encouraged DIY mask projects. The Michael Garron Hospital, for instance, has challenged all sewers to create 1,000 masks a week for use by the community and visitors to the hospital. They’ve even provided instructions for people to follow

Toronto designers have turned their sewing efforts to making masks. While these masks do not provide the protection that N95 masks do, they are being used by the public to help decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, a medical microbiologist and the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pathogenesis of Emerging and Re-Emerging Viruses at the University of Manitoba, says “at the end of the day, those types of homemade products work better than nothing.”

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada (CPHO), Dr. Theresa Tam, urges the public to leave the N95 masks for healthcare workers and those caring for individuals who have the virus, and provides insight on how to properly wear a face mask. 


She encourages face mask users to continue practicing good hygiene before, during, and after wearing a face mask.

Celebrated author, Margaret Atwood, has shared an easy DIY face mask tutorial on Twitter using a few simple items: a bandana and two rubber bands.

Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control, Associate Medical Director, Antimicrobial Stewardship program at Michael Garron Hospital recommends users to wash DIY face masks regularly. “It will be everyone’s responsibility to keep their mask clean. We recommend washing masks daily with hot water and laundry detergent,” he says.

Article exclusive to TRNTO