Mask requirement dropped in Kingston, Ont. hospitals

Patients coming into Kingston hospitals will no longer need to wear a mask, but certain areas of the hospitals still require people to mask up. Global News

Kingston Health Sciences Centre has moved to the next step in its COVID-19 step-down plan by dropping the masking requirement in its hospitals.

Patients coming into hospitals will no longer need to wear a mask in most areas, although masks will still be mandatory in the Kingston General Hospital’s Emergency Department, and Hotel Dieu Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre and Children’s Outpatient Clinic.

KHSC adds that while masks aren’t mandatory in Kidd 9 Oncology, NICU, Burr 3 Dialysis Unit, and Oncology Clinics at KGH, they are strongly recommended.

“The decision to move ahead with this next phase of the COVID-19 step-down plan has been informed by ongoing analysis of provincial, and regional data,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, medical director of infection prevention and control.

“This data shows very low levels of outbreak numbers, wastewater detection of SARS-CoV-2, and COVID-19 test positivity in Southeastern Ontario. Levels this low are unprecedented in our region, given there are no longer any community public health mandates in place.”

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Some restrictions still remain in place, such as masks still being required for patients with respiratory symptoms, and visitors with symptoms must still postpone their visits.

There is still a two-person limit for bedside visitors, and staff who are experiencing symptoms are still prohibited from coming to work.

KHSC says the COVID-19 risk in the community has diminished, leading to the implementation of these changes.

“High rates of hybrid immunity to COVID-19, through combined natural infection and immunization, has also greatly helped reduce severity of symptoms for most individuals,” Dr. Evans says.

“In fact, last week we achieved a significant COVID-19 milestone. For the first time in several years, there were no active COVID-19 inpatient cases at the KGH or HDH sites five consecutive days.”

Those who still wish to wear a mask in the hospital can still do so if they choose, and staff will put on a mask if the patient they are seeing is wearing one.

Staff may also ask patients to wear a mask if it is part of their risk assessment process.

Masks and hand sanitizer will still be available at the main entrances of all KHSC hospitals.

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