Restore Mask Mandates, 3 Medical Officers of Health Write Letter to Ontario’s Top Doctor

Three local medical officers of health have written a joint letter to Ontario’s top doctor, asking him to reinstate mask mandates in schools and other indoor public places.

Niagara Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Windsor-Essex County Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai and Peterborough Medical Officer of Health Dr. Thomas Piggott drafted the letter and sent it to Dr. Kieran Moore. , Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Wednesday.

They praised Moore for extending mask mandates in hospitals, long-term care homes, public transit and other high-risk settings through June and urged him to expand it further to include people. indoor public places, including workplaces, schools, universities, colleges and essential services. places like pharmacies and grocery stores.

“To be fully effective and clear in communicating with Ontarians, we believe this is necessary at the provincial level and not at the local level,” the letter states.

“Like you, we had hoped that as masking and other protections ceased to be requirements, we would be able to get through this wave without too much pain or long-term disruption. Unfortunately, it does not seem turned out as we had hoped.”

In March, the Ford government lifted the mask mandate for most settings. The move, according to a submission from Public Health Ontario (PHO), contributed to the province’s sixth wave which saw an estimated 100,000 to 120,000 daily cases at one point in April.

The outbreak has led to repeated calls for the government to reintroduce masking, especially in schools. But the province has repeatedly insisted that is not necessary.

In their letter, the three doctors noted that COVID-19-related hospitalizations in their regions continue to exceed numbers from previous pandemic waves. This led Niagara’s main hospital to cut surgeries by 70%, they said, adding that by the start of the week, 100 patients had been admitted without beds.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly had a disproportionate impact on individuals and communities with the worst social determinants of health. The current high and persistent transmission of COVID-19 exacerbates inequalities in our society,” the doctors wrote.

“It subjects those with inequalities to more infections, more hospitalizations, more isolation from work and school, more income lost due to isolation and more risk of long-term disability. term with post-acute COVID syndrome (aka Long COVID).”

In the letter, the doctors stressed the importance of masking in reducing COVID-19 infections, asking Moore to reconsider the imposed mandates.

“The return of masking could help protect people suffering from inequalities and vulnerabilities, relieve pressures on our hospitals and, above all, protect the health of the people we serve,” they said.

On Thursday, Ontario reported 32 more deaths related to COVID-19 and saw daily hospitalizations drop.

Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table, said earlier this week that it appears hospitalizations have also peaked at 1,700. He added that a drop in sewage indicators of COVID in the coming weeks would likely be followed by a decrease in hospital admissions.

“So whatever you do in terms of behavior — with contacts, masks, etc. — keep doing it for a few more weeks,” he said. “But I think we’re on the right track now.”

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