After a new surge of COVID-19 and an alarming flu season, many are doubting and debating whether it’s time to reinstate mask rules. However, misinformation online and the lack of a coordinated public health response have left people confused about the right course of action.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said last week she would not allow further masking of the mandates for school children after a court ruled that the government decided to waive and block those mandates.
Despite the recent surge in respiratory viruses, flu and COVID-19 across Canada, Premier Smith said wearing masks has “adverse effects” on children’s mental health.
The detrimental effects of mask wearing on the mental health, development and education of children in classroom settings are well known, and we must turn to an extremely difficult time for children and their parents and teachers.Alberta Premier Danielle Smith
On the other hand, many public health experts in provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia are still standing by their position that wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces can provide important protection against COVID-19.
What experts and provinces say
Dr. Fahad Razak, the former head of Ontario’s COVID-19 scientific advisor, recently said that with the proliferation of new BQ.1 and BQ1.1 Omicron sub-variants in Ontario, now is the time to restore mask regulations.
Dr Razak, a physician at St Michael’s Hospital, also said the health system was under enormous pressure, which usually occurs at the height of the severe flu season.
“Personally, I would say that the criteria for requiring masks are clear,” said Razak, a physician at St Michael’s Hospital.
“For those of you who say, ‘Let’s not do that,’ I ask, ‘What options are there at this point? How do we keep a system with so little capacity, how do we keep it running through the winter?'”
According to UofT Associate Professor Dr. Tara Moriarty, the Canada COVID Hazard Index released last Friday shows traces of COVID in wastewater across Canada have nearly tripled over the past two weeks.
Moriarty said the data shows that Canada is now 18 times more infected than it was at the same time last year.
“That means we’re currently infected between 1 in 24 people and 1 in 34 people in Canada,” she said.
“That’s why it’s so important not only to wear a mask, but to avoid crowded indoor environments…for everyone. Your chances of contracting Covid-19 are really high right now,” she wrote in the latest issue. tweet“Furthermore, even if you’re not worried about getting COVID-19, about half of people in Canada are medically at higher risk for COVID-19 because of age or underlying health conditions. Or they live with someone who is at risk of infection. ,” she added.
University of Toronto associate professor, pediatrics and specialist disease specialist Anna Banerji agrees that with the high respiratory virus cases and hospitals overcrowded, bringing back masks is the right thing to do.
“Yes, absolutely yes,” she wrote in an email Yahoo News Canada.
All experts agreed that wearing a mask combined with a bivalent booster shot could help reduce cases and reduce pressure on hospitals.
The public health advisory on the City of Toronto’s official website also recommends sticking to vaccinations and wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flu.
The city issued the “Guidelines for Respiratory Transmission” notice:
We can protect against COVID-19 and respiratory viruses with a few simple steps:
Stay up-to-date on your vaccinations, including the fall COVID-19 booster and flu shots, to get the best protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and the flu.
Socialize outdoors as much as possible—the risks are lower than indoors.
Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask depending on the environment and situation, especially indoors. Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces is highly recommended, especially if you are around someone at high risk or with a medical condition.
If you are sick or have symptoms, stay home, even if your symptoms are mild.
If you have symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 and get treatment if eligible.
Wash or sanitize your hands frequently, etc.
Ontario’s healthcare system is under enormous pressure
Emergency rooms across province had to close for hours, according to new report to apply pressure. Doctors believe the recent rise in COVID-19 admissions and flu admissions has created a “perfect storm” in hospitals — with wait times of 20 hours or more.
According to Health Canada’s official website, more than 21,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported nationwide last week.
The Canada COVID Hazard Index also noted that about 7,000 people were hospitalized with COVID in Canada last week. In an already overwhelmed system, 12% of hospital beds are unavailable due to COVID-19 patients, data shows.
Moriarty also noted that while we hear COVID is getting better, the statistics are not.
“The number of COVID hospitalizations last week was 6,962. However, Canada has averaged 3,032 weekly COVID hospitalizations since the start of COVID. This data clearly shows that the number of COVID hospitalizations in Canada this week is double that of the entire epidemic so far in Canada, “she says.
“Even if you differentiate between admitted patients who have had COVID (‘had’ cases) and patients admitted with COVID (‘from’ cases), we still get 1.7 times the number we’ve seen before,” she added.
Many emergency rooms report high patient numbers and long wait times, especially children’s hospitals reporting high demand.
University of Toronto professor and epidemiologist Dr. David Fissman recently released a memo at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). Twitter.
The memo makes clear that with hospitalization rates approaching 135 percent, critical care and emergency departments are facing “extreme challenges.”
As a result, MCH is taking various mitigation measures (effective November 4th), such as reducing the number of same-day pediatric surgeries to only one case per day.
The hospital is asking all MCH program volunteers to assist the hospital’s team who are looking into transferring adolescents to other hospitals under the Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) umbrella.
Two days ago, Fisman posted another Important UHN memos on Twitter The above mentioned that Toronto General Hospital is on ICU bed alert, which means that the CVICU, CICU and MSICU have all reached their total bed capacity.
The memo also mentions that hospitals are limiting staff to safely keep all physical intensive care beds open and running.
UHN told its staff to “avoid” admissions to other hospitals that need critical beds and to stop sending patients to emergency rooms.
Recently, officials at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, CHEO, painted a stark picture for its emergency room, as they said the past few months have been the busiest in the hospital’s history.
The hospital is operating with severe overcapacity, with 134% occupancy in the pediatric ward and 124% occupancy in the pediatric intensive care unit. The emergency department sees an average of 229 patient visits per day, compared with the 150 it was built with, said Alex Munter, president and CEO of CHEO.
Also, earlier last week, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children reported waiting times of up to 12 hours due to an unusually high number of patients.
Experts try to raise awareness online and fight misinformation
Document from the Canadian Press