Ontario top doc doesn’t expect a return to broad COVID restrictions, though masking may be needed

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario scraps 5-day isolation period, top doctor gives advice on respiratory illness season'
COVID-19: Ontario scraps 5-day isolation period, top doctor gives advice on respiratory illness season
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore provided advice on Wednesday ahead of the respiratory illness season, including wearing a mask "when it's right for you" and to stay up to date with all vaccinations — including flu shots as well as for COVID-19 – Aug 31, 2022

Ontario’s top doctor says he doesn’t expect a return to broad COVID-19-related restrictions.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore held a media briefing Wednesday where he discussed the upcoming respiratory virus season and indicated Ontarians likely won’t see a return to COVID restrictions, though masking may again be needed.

“I don’t see the place for any further public health measures at a population level in Ontario given the high level of protection that we have,” Moore said.

“We would only even contemplate that and make recommendations to government on that if it was a, almost a brand new virus that we didn’t have good protection for from the vaccine.”

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Moore said that if the health system is put under severe strain, then he would consider recommending to government the reimplementation of a masking requirement.

“I think we will make recommendations on broad-based masking if we see all respiratory pathogens going up for all citizens of Ontario, as you go indoors,” he said.

“If we move to a requirement for masking, in partnership with government, we would do so if the health system was getting impacted severely. So that would be a potential combination of increase in RSV admissions in children or adults, the elderly, influenza admissions, plus COVID admissions.”

Moore said he thinks a return to a masking requirement is something he could explain to Ontarians if needed, given how effective it was in the past. He noted the measure did “brilliantly” in reducing and almost eliminating the last two influenza seasons.

Moore noted that causative COVID hospitalizations have been declining in the province.

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Ontario to expand 1st COVID-19 booster eligibility to children 5 and over

That figure was 36 per cent as of Tuesday, he said, meaning 64 per cent of those in hospital with COVID were admitted for something else.

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In intensive care units, causative COVID admissions remain relatively steady at 60 per cent of those who test positive for the virus.

“I would like to see less patients having to be admitted and higher immunization rates,” he said.

“But from my conversations with my acute care partners, this is well within their capacity to care for all Ontarians.”

The top doctor also announced a change to COVID isolation guidelines Wednesday and announced that Ontario children aged 5 to 11 will be eligible for a booster shot starting Thursday.

Moore said the province is continuing to experience the seventh wave of the pandemic, driven “primarily” by the BA.5 variant.

He said, though, that indicators suggest the wave has plateaued.

Moore said the virus “remains in the community” adding that he expects another increase of COVID-19 in the coming months as the province enters respiratory virus season.

He said his “biggest concern” is “any new circulating pathogen” that could come into Ontario, but noted good virus surveillance is in place.

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He said people should continue to wear a mask “when it is right” for them, should stay up to date with vaccinations and should stay home when they’re sick.

— With files from Hannah Jackson

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