by: Kaitlin Hartley
Ontario’s top doctor strongly recommends the use of masks as the province wades through the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his first COVID-19 update in nearly a month, Dr. Kieran Moore says that while the province is not planning to re-instate the mask mandate for indoor settings, Ontarians should prepare for its return if a variant of concern is detected, or if the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.
“We should all be prepared that we may need to resume or requirement for mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, if a new variant of concern emerges, a threat to our healthcare system or potentially during the winter months.”
The province will likely expand the mandatory masking for high-risk settings, such as hospitals, and public transit past April 27th, which was the date originally set to lift the mandate.
Today’s announcement from the Chief Medical Officer of Health is following the end of Ontario’s mask mandate on March 27th, and since Ontario has seen a steady increase of COVID-19 cases.
“It is clear we are in the sixth wave,” Dr. Moore says.
The province announced eligibility for the antiviral treatment from Pfizer, Paxlovid, and PCR testing is now available to adults who are over the age of 18 that are immunocompromised, or who have been vaccinated less than three times with one at-risk medical condition. It is also expanded to people aged 70 and over, as well as people aged over 60 with fewer than three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Previously, the antiviral pill and tests were only available to immunocompromised adults, unvaccinated adults over 60 and unvaccinated people over the age of 50 if they were First Nation, Metis or Inuit.
Today, Ontario logged over one thousand hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Of those cases, over half of the people who tested positive entered the hospital for a reason unrelated to COVID-19.