Don’t throw away your masks after pandemic, urges Dr Etches – .

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Don’t throw away your masks after pandemic, urges Dr Etches – .


OTTAWA – As COVID-19 vaccinations in Ottawa and across Canada increase, many people will be anxious to do away with masks and physical distancing and other COVID-19 measures that have been in place for more than a year.

But the Ottawa Medical Officer of Health urges residents to keep their masks on hand for the future, because it’s not just COVID-19 that they’ve helped manage.

“The masks have provided important protection that we have come to know about against many respiratory illnesses,” Dr Vera Etches told reporters on Wednesday. “I understand the desire to go back to not needing a mask when you are fully immunized and yet… we have new tools. We don’t want to see the end of being able to prevent respiratory disease with these tools. “

Etches said masks, distancing, staying home when sick – and helping people be able to stay home when sick – have resulted in lower rates of disease transmission. other than COVID-19.

Ottawa Public Health has not issued any influenza reports for the 2020-2021 season due to low levels of transmission attributed to COVID-19 measures.

“Influenza activity among Ottawa residents has been minimal during the season (sic) to date,” said a statement on the health unit’s influenza webpage in late 2020. “The measures of public health related to COVID-19 are drastically reducing influenza activity this season and we continue through the winter. “

No flu reports have been released for the 2020-2021 season because the positivity rate never reached five percent or more for two consecutive weeks, SPO said.

“I just want to tell people not to throw away their masks. They are probably still useful and encourage people to use them because they know they can be useful, ”Etches said.

Follow provincial mask guidelines

Ottawa’s temporary mandatory mask by-law is set to expire on August 25, unless extended by city council.

Etches said there is also a provincial direction that is being followed.

“What we do know is that the provincial regulations in place have pretty much the same requirements as the local regulations,” Etches said. “The province is looking at what is needed over time… we will most likely follow the provincial schedule on this. “

Masks are mandatory in Ottawa in enclosed public spaces, such as shops and workplaces, enclosed common areas in apartment and condominium buildings, and some outdoor spaces where people might congregate closely. They are also compulsory in public transport.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says fully immunized Canadians do not need to wear masks outside or inside in small groups of other fully immunized people, but should always follow local guidelines when indoors with people from more than one household as well as in larger crowds both indoors and outdoors.

As vaccinations intensified, with 70% of Ottawa’s total population having received at least one dose and 40% fully vaccinated, Etches said it was still too early to say the community had sufficiently extensive immunity. to remove all restrictions.

“We need to monitor, as we go, closer contacts inside, more people in the workplace, to see if we are able to keep the critical illness low,” Etches said. . “It is too early to say exactly when we can be confident that there is sufficient immunity to be able to revert to any practice aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID. ”

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