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Mask mandates could return as possibility of a summer wave grows, public health says

A customer enters a restaurant past a sign posted to the door requiring masks.

WATERLOO REGION — Excessive ranges of immunity and a capability to carry again some pandemic measures ought to restrict the impression of one other summer time wave of COVID-19, public well being officers say.

Circumstances have been mounting throughout the province over the previous few weeks, fuelled by the unfold of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

You are reading: Mask mandates could return as possibility of a summer wave grows, public health says

As numbers proceed to rise, consultants are warning of one other summer time wave.

“Key indicators such because the wastewater sign and check positivity fee are exhibiting a rise in COVID-19 exercise within the area and throughout the province,” stated Area of Waterloo Public Well being spokesperson Sharon Ord. “Though the wastewater sign — as much as June 25, 2022 — is dominated by Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are rising in Waterloo Area.”

As of Tuesday, the area had 275 energetic circumstances, 10 outbreaks in high-risk settings and 15 individuals in hospital. The quantity doesn’t seize all infections as a result of testing is restricted in Ontario to these at highest threat.

Not less than three long-term-care properties are seeing dozens of COVID-19 circumstances.

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If numbers proceed to rise, public well being officers may take into account bringing again some mandates to curb the virus’s unfold, Ord stated.

“Our neighborhood’s excessive ranges of immunity from vaccination and an infection, in addition to extra layers of safety we are able to add on during times of upper threat — like masking in indoor or crowded environments, making certain good air flow — have given us the instruments to proceed to scale back the impression of the virus,” she stated.

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are essentially the most transmissible variants of Omicron and may evade the immune system in beforehand contaminated people, stated Wilfrid Laurier College virologist and immunologist Stephanie DeWitte-Orr.

“It doesn’t seem to trigger extra hospitalizations or demise than earlier Omicron variants. This implies if you’re somebody who has a pre-existing well being situation, or are aged, it might be a good suggestion to start out carrying a masks indoors in extremely populated areas.”

With PCR testing unavailable to many of the common public, DeWitte-Orr stated monitoring wastewater ranges is a good suggestion to maintain on high of how the virus is replicating in our neighborhood.

“So long as the virus can replicate, extra variants will pop up,” she stated. “That’s the character of viruses. The cycle will cease when, one, everyone seems to be immune or, two, the virus turns into attenuated, or weakened, to some extent the place it causes little or no illness in people.”

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We aren’t there but, stated Colin Furness, an epidemiologist on the College of Toronto.

“There isn’t a doubt {that a} seventh wave is underway, and it could be a really extended one provided that we now have dismantled primary protections resembling masks mandates,” he stated.

Crucial factor we are able to do now, he stated, is for governments to formally acknowledge the virus is airborne and enact insurance policies for indoor air requirements.

He additionally suggests launching a public training marketing campaign to hammer house to most of the people the pandemic isn’t over.

In the meantime, native public well being officers are nonetheless calling for many who aren’t updated with the vaccines to get their pictures. As of Tuesday, solely 57 per cent of the inhabitants 12 and older has their third dose.

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