Thunder Bay’s top doctor encourages masking, but lacks authority to bring back school mandates – CBC

Amid triple threat of respiratory illnesses affecting children, masking remains optional in schools

Nov 15, 2022

As northwestern Ontario deals with a triple threat of respiratory illnesses affecting children across the province, Thunder Bay’s top health official says she’s unable to direct schools to reintroduce mask mandates seen earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza are spreading, straining emergency rooms and pediatric care resources that in many cases were already stretched to the brink.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has recommended everyone wear masks indoors and return to layers of protection that have proven to work over the course of the pandemic, but he’s stopped short of recommending the return of mask mandates in the province.

Health leaders in northwestern Ontario have echoed this recommendation and have noted that in at least one emergency room in the region, 25 per cent of ER admissions this month have been children under 16. Hospitals have opened up extra pediatric care wards and are sending teens to adult wards to ease the strain.

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