MONTREAL -- Starting Thursday, wearing an N95 type respiratory mask, or ones of greater protection, will be mandatory for all health-care workers in Quebec COVID-19 hot zones.

The announcement comes in the wake of new scientific research and with the evolution of the pandemic, especially when it comes to the new, more infectious variants of COVID-19, Quebec’s workplace safety board said Tuesday.

The wearing of these masks will apply beginning Thursday to hospitals, medical clinics, family medicine groups, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation settings, long-term care settings, private residences for the elderly and other accommodation resources of this type, said the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST).

Staff working in these environments will also have to carry out tests on the respiratory protection devices beforehand, the CNESST said.

The province’s Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, said he welcomed the announcement. 

Boulet said the change will make it possible to work with the best possible equipment in hot zones, because these protective devices meet the highest standards in terms of occupational health and safety.

The new position from CNESST stems from two scientific opinions: those issued by the Committee on Nosocomial Infections of Quebec (CINQ) and by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021.