Dr. Moore strongly recommends masking indoors
TORONTO – Yes to masks but on an optional basis. As expected, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore “strongly recommended” Ontarioans wear masks in all indoor public settings, including schools and childcare facilities, but went no further. No obligation to use it.
Today, during a press conference, Dr. Moore said the province’s health system is facing “unprecedented pressures” with the continued circulation of Covid-19, the expected increase in normal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. “What we are facing is a triple threat that requires our collective action to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, the very young, the elderly and those with underlying chronic conditions, and to ensure that our health care system continues to be able to care for the residents of Ontario when they need it,” Moore said.
It was launched by the hospitals of the province – pediatric in the first place – the alarm about an incredibly high influx of patients in recent weeks, such as to bring the health system to its knees. But despite numerous medical executives for days and days pressuring the government to reintroduce the obligation to wear a mask, Moore preferred not to force his hand and leave the decision to wear it to the discretion and common sense of individuals. “In the past, the requirement has not worked in social settings,” the province’s chief medical officer of health cut short.
After all, that we would find ourselves in such a situation – that is, difficult and complex, Moore said – was already in the forecasts. The forecasts have become an even more worrying reality due to the threat, not of one, but of three viruses: in addition to Covid-19, this year the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) that mainly affects children have returned to give a hard time. “All three actively circulate throughout Ontario, in all of our communities and throughout the Western Hemisphere, contributing to pressures on our pediatric health system. As the risk to Ontarioans increases, we need to use all the levels of protection we have,” Moore said.
Today’s announcement was made in an effort to bring Ontario residents back “to the foundations” of infection prevention. “This is different from Covid. This is about protecting our children and little ones. Please parents, grandparents, siblings: if you have breathing problems, you must use masks near those who are vulnerable.”
For now, despite the emergency reported by various hospitals, including the Sick Kids Hospital, the government will not impose masks. Moore said, however, that if the pressure on the province’s health system continues to increase, it could be made mandatory.
In the “Managing Pediatric Respiratory Virus Season” update, published by the Ministry of Health, the province said that the recommendation extends to schools and childcare facilities due to the “additional risk of RSV and influenza”: even children between the ages of two and five, if they tolerate their use, should wear masks under supervision.
Moore revealed that he spoke with SickKids Hospital CEO Ronald Cohn, who said half of the ventilated patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit have RSV while the other half have influenza. In the past, Moore has said that if hospitals started canceling surgeries, he would recommend masks in certain indoor locations. Of mandate, for now, we do not talk about it.