Masks mandates extended as Ontario battles 6th wave

·2 min read

As Ontario continues to battle the ongoing sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province extends its mask mandate for high-risk indoor settings.

The mandate, which applies to hospitals, long-term care homes, congregate living spaces, and public transit, was set to expire on April 27. It will now remain in effect until at least June 11.

“To protect our progress in managing this latest wave, I am maintaining masking requirements in specific public settings where individuals who are, or maybe, at increased risk of severe outcomes, are in close contact for extended periods of time,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

He said continuing to follow masking requirements and keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are the best ways to help prevent transmission and protect friends, families, and communities.

The mask mandate applies to public transit, health-care settings, long-term care and retirement homes, shelters and other congregate care settings that provide services to “medically and socially vulnerable individuals.

Ontario also announced it would start providing an antibody treatment for immunocompromised people that protects against COVID-19. The province said the two-shot treatment called Evusheld would be available in the coming weeks for organ and stem cell transplant recipients, some cancer patients undergoing treatment and CAR-T therapy recipients.

The news comes as admissions of COVID-19 to intensive care units climbed to another sixth-wave high on April 22.

As of April 23, there are currently 1,684 patients with the virus in Ontario hospitals, a notable rise from 1,130 a week ago.

According to the Ministry of Health, of the 214 ICU patients, 61 percent were admitted to critical care due to COVID-19 symptoms.

The province also confirmed another 3,820 infections on April 23, but the ministry noted the case count might be higher due to a data catch-up.

Among the latest cases, 2,420 have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 716 have received two doses, 463 are not fully vaccinated, and 221 have an unknown vaccination status.

To date, 90 percent of Ontarians aged five years and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 86 percent have received two doses, and 51 percent have received three doses.As of April 23, Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at 12,704.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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