MONTREAL -- While more and more Montrealers are wearing face masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19, many may be wearing them incorrectly.

Jewish General Hospital infection prevention specialist Dr. Leighanne Parkes warned that masks themselves can present a contamination risk for those who aren't trained to use them properly.

“We do know viruses can live on the outside surface of masks. If the mask isn't removed or put on correctly, you can inadvertently contaminate yourself by your hands.”

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing cloth face coverings “in public setting where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” such as grocery stores. Rather than acting a way to protect the individual wearing the mask from being infected, those masks are intended to keep asymptomatic carriers from infecting others. According to the Health Canada website, “wearing a facial covering/non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it and is not a substitute for physical distancing and washing.”

Parkes said the popularity of masks may not mean people are better protected against the virus and could give a false sense of security.

“Masks have a place in hospitals, they have a place among individuals who are trained to use them. But they can be risky outside that setting. There's not a lot of data outside that setting.”

For those who do wish to wear a mask, Parkes demonstrated how to do so safely and properly in the video above.