Ontario’s top doctor will ask the public to wear masks as respiratory illnesses spread




Liam Casey, The Canadian Press



Posted Saturday, November 12, 2022 1:24 PM EST





Last updated Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 2:41 PM EST

TORONTO — Ontario’s top doctor will recommend the public begin masking on Monday in a bid to help overwhelmed children’s hospitals, two government sources said Saturday.

There will be no mask mandate, just a general recommendation to wear masks, especially in crowded situations, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the process.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Kieran Moore has previously said this fall and winter will see a resurgence in respiratory illnesses and that he would recommend masking in some indoor settings if hospitals start canceling surgeries to cope. to a wave of patients.

Meanwhile, medical officials are increasingly asking the public to wear masks.

Children’s hospitals across the province are already overwhelmed with young patients flooding emergency departments, pediatric wards and intensive care units.

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The CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto wants Ontarians to do three things: wear masks, get their flu and COVID-19 shots, and stay away from work, family and friends when they are sick.

“I would definitely encourage universal masking right now, no doubt it would help,” said Dr Ronald Cohn.

The hospital announced on Friday that it would reduce surgeries to redeploy staff to those areas, Cohn added.

“It is extremely busy and while I recognize that words like crisis and historic and even unprecedented have gone from signal to noise over the past two and a half years, we are seeing historic volumes of children in our emergency room , in our regular pediatric wards and in our intensive care units,” Cohn said in an interview.

The children arriving are very sick, he said, noting that 38 children in the hospital’s intensive care unit are currently on ventilators.

“So far no one has died, thank God,” Cohn said.

But the cancellation of surgeries is a blow to children, their families and healthcare workers.

“We have had to drastically reduce all scheduled surgeries that are not life-saving or not very urgent in order to create the capacity for children who need these very urgent life-saving procedures or who need other life-saving admissions to the intensive care and paediatrics. neighborhoods,” he said. “It is devastating for the families who have already been waiting for so long. But it’s important for people to know how morally upsetting this is for all of us, too, as medical professionals. »

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa opened a second pediatric intensive care unit and had to cancel surgeries to redeploy healthcare workers to staff the new space.

The Ontario Hospital Association is also asking Ontario residents to wear masks indoors and get up-to-date COVID-19 and flu shots.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 12, 2022.

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