- The province’s top health official claims that the mask requirement will be lifted by the end of the month.
- As part of a broader reopening, Moore believes that Ontario will lift the mask mandate for most indoor settings by the end of March.
Despite signs that more infectious Omicron subvariant BA.2 is on its way towards becoming dominant, Ontario’s top health official asserts the province is on track to lift its mask requirement by the end of the month.
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
While modeling forecasts indicate that BA.2 will become dominant in Ontario by mid-March, he claims that there is no proof that the variant is more virulent than previous strains.
As a result, Moore believes that Ontario will lift the mask mandate for most indoor settings by the end of March as part of a broader reopening.
Moore previously stated that the mask mandate could be extended for longer in some high-risk settings, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
“We’ll be monitoring the data in the coming weeks,” he said that on Thursday, “but I agree with the Premier and the (Health) Minister that because the trends appear to be so positive, we can anticipate clearing mandatory masking by the end of March if the trends continue.”
Moore said that the province is beginning to see an increase in virus spread based on wastewater surveillance data. Still, the increase isn’t entirely unexpected given the lifting of many public health restrictions.
He also stated that 30 to 40% of Ontarians are likely to have increased protraction due to a recent COVID-19 virus, which should prevent a rebound in case numbers even if BA.2 is present.
It’s thought that the BA.2 sub-variant is 1.5 times more contagious than the original Omicron strain.
According to research, the new sub-variant may cause some reinfection, but Moore claims that this occurs in a “very small proportion of cases.”
“I believe the greatest danger has passed us by,” he said. “The risk of hospitalization peaked around the third week of January, and since then, we’ve seen rates drop from 4,000 to approx 800 Ontarians in hospitals testing positive for COVID-19.” But that doesn’t indicate the risk is gone, which is why we’re keeping the mask on and delaying removing it from the population for the next few weeks while we monitor the data.”
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