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From the Optimal Aging Portal: Do face masks help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses?


Published: March 31, 2021 

The Bottom Line

  • Respiratory viruses—such as influenza, SARS, and COVID-19—can lead to significant illness and death. Globally, COVID-19 has caused over 118 million cases and upwards of 2.6 million deaths. 
  • Research supports face mask wearing in combination with other infection control strategies such as handwashing and physical distancing. 
  • Wearing a face mask can decrease the spread of respiratory viruses from one person to another in both health care and non-health care populations. 
  • Don’t forget to mask up and stay up to date on recommendations and best practices for mask usage by regularly seeking information from government and public health organizations.  

From the seasonal flu to the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak to the current COVID-19 pandemic, battling respiratory viruses is part of our past, present, and future. These outbreaks and pandemics may vary in length and scale but are similar in that they can cause significant death and illness. Take, for example, COVID-19, which to date is responsible for more than 118 million cases and over 2.6 million deaths globally.  Canada accounts for nearly 900 thousand cases and over 22 thousand deaths. These numbers demonstrate just how infectious some respiratory viruses can be.

Read the full article here

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (, a unique online health resource created by McMaster University to support the healthy aging of Canada’s older adult population, is highlighting ways to stay active and engaged while practicing physical distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.​ Read more.


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