Ontario's Top Doctor Is 'Strongly Recommending' Masks Indoors & Mandates Aren't Ruled Out
It's another province-wide call to mask up. 😷
The Ontario government is "strongly recommending" people wear masks indoors to help combat what Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, described as a "triple threat" of COVID-19, RSV, and the seasonal flu impacting the province's pediatric healthcare system.
Monday's recommendation for all indoor environments, including schools and childcare settings, stopped short of a reimposed mask mandate in Ontario, but that is clearly not off the table.
"I'm reminding Ontarians to get back to using all the layers of protection that we know work to keep ourselves and others healthy," said Dr. Moore, as he warned all three respiratory illnesses have a steadily high test positivity rate across the province.
"I'm strongly recommending that all Ontarians — not just those at high risk — wear a mask in indoor public settings, especially around our most vulnerable Ontarians, the very young and the very old," Dr. Moore said. "I'm also recommending that, if possible, children between two and five wear masks with supervision if they can tolerate the mask and safely put it on and off."
While not announcing any formal mask mandate, Dr. Moore suggested that may be possible.
He called it the "principal tool at hand" and the "furthest we'd have to go," but when further pressed on the possibility, clarified that he doesn't believe mandatory masking in Ontario is inevitable.
Ontario’s Top Doctor Is ‘Strongly Recommending’ Masks Indoors & Mandates Aren’t Ruled Out #shortswww.youtube.com
Any timeline on changes going forward could be weeks away as officials said Monday the peak of flu season is expected in early to mid-December.
Urging this new level of protection for the most vulnerable, Dr. Moore put the focus specifically on children under the age of four who "cannot mask."
"What might be a cold to you can lead to a severe respiratory infection in a child four and under," said Moore, stressing that anyone with respiratory symptoms should mask up, including at home. "I'm very concerned about our children and protecting our children right now."
This may seem like an announcement Ontario has heard before throughout the pandemic, but the message today was also one of education to explain why this time, things are different.
"This isn't COVID that's affecting our children, although it can obviously can," Dr. Moore explained. "It's RSV and influenza combined that are driving our children to have to be admitted to hospitals."
Dr. Moore said the focus has turned to masking up again because "it's hard to mandate those social environments" — a comment he made when asked about the possibility of any reintroduction of capacity limits on social gatherings.
When asked about mandating masks in schools, he said that decision would fall on individual school boards and their consultation with local public health officials.
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