A Winnipeg microbiologist says the province’s move to remove masks in almost all health-care settings is a surprising one.
Dr. Phillippe Lagace-Wiens works at St. Boniface Hospital, which is one of the facilities across Manitoba where masks won’t be required as of May 10.
Shared Health made the announcement Wednesday that the masking requirements — which were implemented at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic for health-care facilities in Manitoba — are set to be lifted next week.
“I’m not necessarily advocating that people wear masks universally anymore,” Lagace-Wiens told 680 CJOB’s The Start.
“I think we’re well past that…. But in settings like hospitals, I think it still behooves us to try to protect our patients, at least until we know what effect the changes in all other areas of the hospital are going to have on our patients.”
In making its decision, Shared Health says it consulted infection prevention and control experts.
Masks will still be required for those who are sick and near vulnerable patients, like those in need of a transplant or going through cancer treatments.
Lagace-Wiens said wearing masks in hospitals goes beyond simply the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and can have additional benefits for patients.
“With people wearing them properly and consistently, it can have a dramatic impact on not just COVID, but also other serious respiratory illnesses like influenza and RSV,” he said.
“And that’s something we can’t forget. We can really reduce our patients’ risk of acquiring influenza in hospital by the wearing of masks — as well as COVID-19 and others.”