The future of COVID in Canada: Doctors weigh in on vaccines, masking

With much of Canada in the midst of a summer wave of COVID-19, public health officials and doctors have mixed opinions on how provinces and territories respond from this point forward.

Although COVID-19 testing is not as widespread as it once was, other metrics, such as sewage testing, are on the rise. The most infectious subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron now make up the majority of samples collected and sequenced from the genome. data from the Public Health Agency of Canada show.

In recent weeks, doctors have been asked whether it is necessary to implement certain public health restrictions, such as the mandatory use of masks, to control the latest or seventh wave of COVID-19.

“I think if you’re doing things outdoors, you don’t really need the masks unless there are a lot of people, and I think that’s where people use their discretion,” said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist and member of the faculty of the University of Toronto, to CTV. Your Thursday morning.

“But I think in certain places if the numbers go up, and we expect the numbers to go up again in September, there should be certain places that they should have mask mandates.”

This would include settings where there are vulnerable people, he said, such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

Whether provinces choose to bring back certain restrictions will depend on their own situations, he said, with measures in the Maritimes differing from those in Ontario, for example.

PROVINCES THAT HAVE NOT YET RETURNED RESTRICTIONS

Provinces and territories have lifted nearly all of their COVID-19 public health restrictions, including mask mandates, in recent months and many seem unwilling to reinstate those measures.

“You know, to a large extent they end up being political decisions, they really are,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and faculty member at the University of Toronto, told CTV news channel on July 8.

“So I think what we can do in this context is have appropriate messaging.”

That message, he said, includes getting up to date on vaccinations, which help prevent more serious illnesses, wearing a high-quality mask indoors where COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted, and, if possible, getting outside activities. free.

“These are just simple steps people can take to help protect themselves and those around them,” he said.

Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said the province is does not plan to bring back public health restrictions.

At the time, he said he expected Ontario to reach the peak of its current wave, which he described as a “slower trajectory” with “less severe” results, in the next two weeks.

That said, Moore added that he would act accordingly if COVID-19 threatened the province’s health system, though even that would be a “contingency for the fall.”

Ontario long-term care homes saw new outbreaks of COVID-19 more than double in the first week of July in the light of the summer wave. Masking still required in nursing homes and long-term care homes in Ontario.


A report from Public Health Ontariofor the week of July 10, it shows that deaths in the province from COVID-19 have remained stable, with between 29 and 40 deaths reported weekly in the previous four weeks.

Even as COVID-19 cases surged in the spring, hospitalizations in Canada did not reach the previous peak of the winter Omicron wave, nor the latest summer wave.

However, hospitalizations tend to lag behind reports of new cases and Public Health Ontario said that people over the age of 80 continue to have higher rates of hospitalization and death compared to other age groups.

As the first wave of Omicron in the winter shows, even if a smaller proportion of people who contract the subvariant end up in hospital, a massive increase in cases could result in more people being hospitalized.

BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said on July 4 that preparations are underway to combat any possible surge of COVID-19 this fall, but there are no immediate plans to return to a province-wide mask mandate.

In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé said during a July 7 press conference that the province not reimpose sanitary measures. Quebec has currently reported more hospitalizations than any other province.

THIRD AND FOURTH DOSES

Public health officials and infectious disease specialists continue to recommend that residents receive a third dose of the vaccine, with some provinces expanding eligibility for the fourth dose to all adults.

Toronto epidemiologist Dr. Prabhat Jha told CTV News Channel on July 11 that, along with wearing masks indoors, a third dose will offer the best protection against a fall wave of COVID-19.

He also thinks the definition of being “fully vaccinated” should change to three doses, although uptake has lagged compared to the first and second doses.

As of June 27, nearly 56 percent of people age 12 and older have received at least one reinforcementreports the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“Politicians have lost interest and the public has lost interest, but that is still the most important strategy and I would like to see a much clearer push before we even talk about fourth doses, which are relevant but only to a real subset of the population,” Jha said.

Dr. Dale Kalina, an infectious disease physician at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., told CTV news channel on July 9 that current vaccines are still doing a good job of preventing serious illness.

“Of course, the importance of three doses of a vaccine for the vast majority of people cannot be underestimated,” he said.

“And then of course add four doses to that, generally for people whose immune systems are not going to respond as well, and I think that’s where we are right now with regard to vaccines.”

But even if hospitalizations and deaths don’t reach the levels seen in previous waves, further spread of the virus will have an effect on society, whether that’s because more people develop prolonged COVID symptoms or have to miss work, particularly in hospitals, Montréal. epidemiologist and cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos told CTV News Channel on July 7.

“If we continually allow COVID to infect large sections of the population, we are going to have a large number of people with debilitating symptoms and that will make it difficult for society to function,” he said.

“When we talk about living with COVID, we will not be able to live with COVID if everyone is sick.”


With archives from CTV News and The Canadian Press

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