After a new COVID-19 surge and a shocking flu season, many are wondering and debating whether it’s time to bring mask requirements back. However, misinformation on the internet and the lack of a coordinated public health response have left people confused as to the right course of action.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said last week that she would not allow any more masking mandates for children in schools following a court ruling on the government’s decision to drop and block those mandates.
Despite a recent Canada-wide spike in respiratory viruses, flu and COVID-19, Premier Smith said masking was having “adverse effects” on children’s mental health.
The adverse effects of masking on children’s mental health, development and education in the classroom are well known, and we must turn the page at an extremely difficult time for children, along with their parents and teachers. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith
On the other hand, many public health experts in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia still maintain their position that masking is an important protection against COVID-19 in indoor crowded areas.
What the experts and provinces say
Former head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisor, Dr. Fahad Razak recently said it’s time to bring back mask requirements as Ontario sees a surge in new BQ.1 and BQ1.1 omicron subvariants in the province.
dr Razak, an internist at St. Michael’s Hospital, also said the health care system is under immense strain, typically seen at the height of a bad flu season.
“Personally, I would say the criteria for requiring something like a mask mandate are clearly here,” said Razak, an internist at St. Michael’s Hospital.
“For anyone who says, ‘Let’s not do this,’ I would ask, ‘What’s the alternative at this point? How do we keep the plant running at such a low capacity, how do we get it to keep running through the winter?”
The story goes on
According to UofT Associate Professor Dr. Tara Moriarty, the Canadian COVID Hazard Index, released last Friday, shows that traces of COVID in sewage across Canada have nearly tripled in the past two weeks.
According to Moriarty, this data shows that the number of people infected in Canada is currently 18 times higher than the number of people infected at the same time last year.
“That means about 1 in 24 to 1 in 34 people in Canada is currently infected,” she said.
“That’s why it’s so important not only to wear masks, but also to avoid crowded indoor spaces… for everyone. Your chances of contracting COVID are very high right now,” she writes in her latest article tweet. “Even if you’re not worried about contracting COVID yourself, about half of people in Canada are medically at higher risk of COVID-19 due to age or underlying health conditions. Or they live with someone who is,” she added.
Anna Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and an expert in pediatrics and expert diseases, agrees that with high respiratory virus cases and hospitals being overwhelmed, bringing masks back would be the right course of action.
“Yes, definitely yes,” she wrote in an email to Yahoo News Canada.
All experts agree that masking combined with bivalent booster shots can help contain cases and relieve hospitals.
Public health advice on the official on the City of Toronto’s website also pointed out that keeping immunizations and wearing a good-quality, well-fitting mask can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flu.
City Respiratory Spread Guide Notice:
We can step up our protection against COVID-19 and respiratory viruses with a few simple steps:
Stay up to date with your vaccinations, including a fall COVID-19 booster shot and a flu shot if you’re entitled to the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and flu.
If possible, meet outdoors – the risk is lower outdoors than indoors.
Wear a quality, well-fitting mask, especially indoors, and depending on the environment and situation. Wearing masks is highly recommended in indoor public spaces, especially when you are around people who are at higher risk or have a medical condition.
Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms, even if they are mild.
If you have symptoms, get tested and treated for COVID-19 if eligible.
Wash or disinfect your hands frequently, etc.
Ontario’s healthcare system is under immense pressure
According to recent reports, emergency rooms across the province have had to close for hours to print. Doctors believe the recent spike in COVID-19 admissions and flu admissions has unleashed the “perfect storm” in hospitals — with wait times of up to 20 hours or more.
More than 21,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported nationwide last week, according to Health Canada’s official website.
The Canada COVID Hazard Index also says around 7,000 people have been hospitalized with COVID across Canada in the last week. The data shows that in an already congested system, 12 percent of hospital beds are unavailable due to COVID-19 patients.
Moriarty also pointed out that while we’re hearing COVID is getting better, the stats say otherwise.
“COVID hospitalizations in the last week were 6,962. However, the average weekly COVID hospitalizations in Canada since COVID began was 3,032. This data clearly shows that this week there were twice as many COVID hospitalizations in Canada as during the entire epidemic in Canada so far,” she said.
“Even if you differentiate between patients who already have COVID (the ‘with’ cases) and patients who have been admitted for COVID (the ‘from’ cases), we still get a 1.7 times higher number than what we’ve seen before,” she adds.
Many emergency rooms report a high number of patients and long waiting times, with children’s hospitals in particular reporting high demand.
The professor and epidemiologist Dr. The University of Toronto’s David Fisman recently published a memo sent by McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). Twitter.
The memo clearly stated that inpatient occupancy is approaching 135 per cent and that the intensive care and emergency departments face “extreme challenges”.
As a result, MCH is taking various mitigation measures that will come into effect on November 4th, such as: B. Reducing the number of same-day pediatric surgical admissions to just one case per day.
The hospital is asking for volunteers across all MCH programs to support teams at the hospital and they are investigating moving adolescents and adolescents to other hospitals under Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).
Fisman released another two days ago crucial UHN memo on Twitter It mentioned that Toronto General Hospital is under Critical Care Bed Alert, meaning the CVICU, CICU and MSICU have all reached their total bed capacities.
The memo also mentioned that the hospital has a limited number of people to safely keep all physical critical care beds open and operational.
UHN urged its staff to “avoid” accepting admissions from other hospitals that require a critical bed and to stop sending patients to the ER.
Recently, officials at CHEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, painted a stark picture of its emergency department, saying the past few months have been the busiest in the hospital’s history.
The hospital has significant overcapacity, with the pediatric departments at 134 percent occupancy, while the pediatric intensive care unit is at 124 percent. The emergency department averages 229 patient visits per day while it is designed for 150, said Alex Munter, CHEO’s president and CEO.
In addition, early last week the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children reported wait times of up to 12 hours due to unusually high patient traffic for the time of year.
Experts are trying to raise awareness and fight misinformation online
With files from The Canadian Press