N95 masks are getting harder to find as Omicron continues to spread

N95 masks are getting harder to find as Omicron continues to spread

EDMONTON – 

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread in Alberta, respirator-style masks, which are recommended by healthcare experts, are becoming hard to find.

Some stores around Edmonton are sold out of N95 respirator masks and aren’t sure when they’ll be back in stock.

“It’s very up in the air right now,” said Matthew Bara, the ALSCO Canada supply chain lead. “I’ve been talking with a couple of our suppliers, the lead times, they just keep getting bumped.”

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Calgary ER Doctor Joe Vipond suggests checking places you might not normally think of like auto-part stores, paint stores or hardware stores for respirator-style masks.

Another method of staying safe is to make your surgical mask fit better, added Vipond.

“All you’re trying to do is make sure that all of the air that you’re breathing is only flowing through the fabric and none of the air is coming in on the sides or through the top around the nose or under, which is where the surgical masks leak,” said Vipond.

He suggests using a mask brace or the knot and tuck technique to eliminate gaps in traditional surgical masks.

“COVID is airborne, that means it needs to be inhaled into the lungs to cause infection… so what you’re trying to do is avoid pulling that air into your lungs, without it going through a filter system, like a mask,” said Vipond.

Using a well-fitted fabric mask over top of a surgical mask is “not the best,” added Vipond, but can also help.

For people who prefer the respirator-style masks, Vipond also suggests checking the purchase list on the Masks4Canada or the Canadian Association of PPE Manufacturers websites.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Joe Scarpelli

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