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Ontario, Dr. Moore to ask public to begin masking but won’t issue mandate

TORONTO – With respiratory diseases rampant and Ontario Children’s Hospitals full over the edge today, Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore will recommend residents of the province wear masks again. This was told to The Canadian Press by two sources close to the government who wished to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak about it publicly. 

Masks will therefore be recommended especially in crowded environments but there will be no obligation to wear them.

Chief medical officer Moore had previously said that in the fall and winter there would be a resurgence of respiratory diseases and that if hospitals began to cancel surgeries to cope with the increase in patients, he would advocate the use of this protective equipment.

And as expected, infections have started to run again, especially among children who are crowding as never before in emergency rooms, pediatric wards and intensive care units. The situation is alarming according to medical officials who are increasingly urging people to use masks. Dr. Ronald Cohn, president of the Hospital for Sick Children, speaks out of his teeth and asks the inhabitants of the province to do three things: wear masks, get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 and stay away from work, family and friends when they are sick. “I encourage everyone without ifs and buts to wear masks, at this time there is no doubt that they would be of great help – said Cohn – we are seeing historic volumes of children in our emergency room, in our pediatric wards and in our intensive care units”.

Children who come to Toronto Children’s Hospital are very sick, said the SickKids executive, “more than half of the hospital’s 38 ICU children are currently connected to a ventilator.” “So far, no one has died, thank God,” Cohn added.

And while reassuring everyone that children continue to receive the safe, high-quality care they have always received, Cohn highlighted how canceling surgeries is a blow to children, their families and caregivers. “This is devastating for families who have been waiting for so long. But it’s important for people to know how incredibly morally distressing this is for all of us as healthcare professionals as well,” he said.

The viruses that are bringing children to SickKids have changed in the last month, Cohn said. “Rhinovirus and enterovirus infections were driving hospitalizations a few weeks ago but the current increase is fueled by cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus,” he said.

But Sick Children’s Hospital is not the only children’s hospital facing a more than difficult situation.  Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa opened a second pediatric intensive care unit and had to cancel surgeries to redistribute healthcare workers to the new space. Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital said Friday that there were 53 children with RSV, influenza and other viral diseases. Less than two weeks ago, there were only 14 patients with the same disease. More than 200 children come to his emergency room every day, with waiting times of 12-13 hours.

And the Ontario Hospital Association also asks Ontarioans to wear masks indoors. “A large number of hospitalized children do not have Covid, are not immunocompromised and have no underlying conditions,” President Dale said. Everyone should therefore wear a mask: it is not explained at this point why Dr. Moore advises, but does not mandate, the use of masks. Hospitals, especially children’s hospitals, are clearly in great trouble and he is the chief medical officer of health in Ontario: what are you waiting for to deal with such a serious situation destined to worsen further?

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