Too quickly for province to elevate masks necessities at health-care amenities, transit: Hirji

Though COVID-19 mask-wearing necessities are set to run out Saturday for high-risk indoor settings corresponding to hospitals, long-term-care properties and public transit, Niagara performing medical officer of well being Dr. Mustafa Hirji says it might nonetheless be too quickly to take away the safety masks provide.

“Taking a look at wastewater knowledge … and the per cent positivity knowledge, to me it appears to be like like COVID circulation remains to be comparatively excessive,” Hirji mentioned Monday whereas updating media on the state of the pandemic.

He mentioned ranges of COVID-19 present in wastewater are lowering, however they’re nonetheless increased than they had been earlier than the Omicron wave hit in December. The share of individuals testing constructive for the virus stays increased than he would really like it to be, too.

“It is positively on the best way down, however there’s nonetheless a considerable quantity of threat on the market from the virus,” he mentioned.

When most provincial an infection management measures had been lifted on April 27, Ontario chief medical officer of well being Dr. Kieran Moore prolonged mask-wearing necessities to June 11 for high-risk settings — citing issues about elevated threat of an infection in places the place persons are in shut contact for prolonged durations of time.

Masks continued to be required for individuals utilizing public transit or visiting health-care amenities corresponding to hospitals, medical places of work and clinics, in addition to long-term-care and retirement properties, and different congregate care settings.

Niagara Well being government vice-president Linda Boich mentioned the hospital system is pending additional steerage from the Ministry of Well being concerning the remaining mask-wearing necessities earlier than it offers an replace on its subsequent steps.

“The well being and well-being of our sufferers, employees and physicians stays our high precedence,” she mentioned in an e-mail. “In the interim each particular person contained in the hospital should proceed to put on a masks always, even when they’re absolutely vaccinated.”

Niagara Area senior companies director Henriette Koning mentioned she, too, is awaiting provincial steerage for the long-term-care properties operated by the municipality.

“We anticipate up to date path from the Ministry of Lengthy-Time period Care shortly to verify if present masking necessities in LTC properties can be prolonged past June 11,” she mentioned.

Hirji recommends masks proceed to be worn — particularly in areas the place susceptible persons are current — till the danger of an infection drops additional.

“I do suppose there may be a degree later in the summertime the place masks can come off,” he mentioned. “I am not feeling tremendous optimistic that subsequent week goes to be low sufficient the place I might really feel snug with that.”

Hirji mentioned he would really like Moore to additional lengthen the mask-wearing requirement in these places for about two weeks, “so we will see a bit deeper into the summer season what issues appear to be.”

“I believe we’re getting to a degree the place possibly it is safer to do this, however I do not suppose we’re at that time but,” he mentioned.