Mask mandates not out of the question as Ontario faces 'triple threat' of flu, RSV and COVID-19: Moore

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Mask mandates not out of the question as Ontario faces 'triple threat' of flu, RSV and COVID-19: Moore

Dr. Kieran Moore says recommendation could come if COVID affects ability to reduce surgical backlog

The Canadian Press · Posted: Nov 02, 2022 4:58 PM ET | Last Updated: November 2

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Dr. Kieran Moore says he will consider suggesting mask recommendations to the government if the strain on the healthcare system worsens. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

The "triple threat" of a bad flu season, COVID-19 and the resurgence of a childhood viral illness is putting a strain on the health system, Ontario's top doctor said Wednesday, with a decision on masking recommendations possibly coming in a couple of weeks.

Dr. Kieran Moore has said if COVID-19 starts affecting the ability to reduce the surgical backlog he would suggest the government make a recommendation on masking in certain indoor settings, and if there are further effects he would recommend reinstating mask mandates.

Some public health experts, such as former COVID-19 science advisory table head Dr. Fahad Razak, have said Ontario is already at the point of needing mask mandates again.

Many hospitals across the province, both smaller ones in rural areas and large ones in cities, have been overwhelmed with patients, reporting large volumes and long waits.

Emergency departments have closed periodically — a trend that first began in the summer largely due to nursing staff shortages. Children's hospitals in Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton have reported unprecedented surges of pediatric patients, many coming in with respiratory illnesses.

This year's main flu strain particularly virulent: Moore​

Moore said he is monitoring COVID-19 indicators, ICU occupancy, and even flu activity in weighing his decision on masks. This year's dominant flu strain is particularly virulent, he said.

"It does cause high hospitalization rates and morbidity," Moore said. "On a normal season we see 12,000 Canadians admitted to hospital ... that may be higher with (this strain)."

Flu shots are now available to people in Ontario aged six months and older, and Moore is urging everyone to get them as soon as possible because they don't take effect until 10 to 14 days post-vaccination, and that is about when flu activity will really start to pick up.

"We really do have a couple of weeks to maximize the benefit of the influenza vaccine," Moore said.

"It's pointless getting vaccinated after the epidemic is over. You really want to protect as many Ontarians as possible in advance of the rise in risk and really, these next two weeks are key to protecting as many Ontarians as we can."

Moore said the influenza test positivity rate is expected to rise about five per cent this week, and if there are two weeks at that level the virus will spread more dramatically, so he will let Ontarians know at that point whether more people should be masking.

Vulnerable people recommended to mask already​

There are already 18 Ontarians in ICU because of the flu, with eight on ventilators, Moore said. There are 1,796 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 138 in ICU and 52 on ventilators, he said. As well, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with the season even starting a bit early, Moore said.

People who are particularly vulnerable to respiratory viruses should definitely be masking now, Moore said.

"We strongly recommend as we head in with this triple threat, that anyone susceptible to this virus with the underlying illness or older members of our community, as you go indoors, please, we're asking you to mask up," he said.

Vaccination is also key, Moore said, and urged all Ontarians to get their COVID-19 booster shots as well as flu shots. It is safe and effective to receive both at the same time, he said.

Immunity from COVID-19 vaccines wanes after about six months, he said. And the Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are "becoming a dominant strain" in Ontario.

Public Health Ontario has said the BQ subvariants are growing twice as quickly as the BA.5 strain and have a high risk potential for transmissibility, reinfection and lowered vaccine effectiveness.
 

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和风溪流

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今天去Bayshore Mall ,大多数人不带口罩,极个别的带医用口罩。我们带N95口罩,感觉像外星人
 

ASSISTANT

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我在bayshore留意了下。老中都带。没啥对不对,政策允许带也允许不带
医药科学要有很长的临床期,几年内出来的东西要有怀疑态度。
归根到底无非就是都想活得长点。秘诀就是少吃少动
 

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口罩还是戴吧,无大碍。
 

Jay Wang

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口罩还是戴吧,无大碍。

强制戴罩不会出事吧?!
去年卡车司机示威,再强制,拖拉机司机游行啊。
 

lovezxr86

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今天去Bayshore Mall ,大多数人不带口罩,极个别的带医用口罩。我们带N95口罩,感觉像外星人
戴了心理有平安就好,不用管其他人
 

billwanhua

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感染还是要慎重,我一开始没有什么症状以为要结束了,昨天夜里突然高烧,羽绒被加毯子还冷,今天早上又恢复正常,只感觉喉咙痛。不过我坚持没有吃任何退烧药
 
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