Don’t wait for gov’t; make your own mask mandate
It’s official: Canada is at the beginning of an influenza epidemic and many of those affected are children. News dispatches from across the country are painting a grim picture. worrying, And it’s not just influenza that’s but the continued spread of COVID-19 and the prevalence of RSV. RSV — respiratory syncytial virus — is an illness that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms, but it can be serious in young children, leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. In Nova Scotia, hospitals have been reporting record numbers of young patients with respiratory illnesses, influenza cases are spiking and the province is still charting 100 cases of COVID a day. In Quebec, children with RSV are filling hospital beds, and hospitals in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are reporting the same. The situation has many Canadians feeling anxious and medical personnel dealing with exasperation as they are pushed to capacity limits even more than before. Which has brought the national conversation around to the M-word — masking. reinstating Should provinces consider mask mandates? Many physicians are strongly recommending their use, including Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, who, at a Nov. 14 news conference, advised all Ontarians — and not just those most vulnerable — to wear masks indoors. Dr. Andrew Lynk, chief of pediatric medicine at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, has said a return to mandatory indoor masking should be considered. But there seems to be a reluctance to go that far among politicians who may be leery of blowback from constituents who are tired of being told what do to. Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious diseases specialist at Dalhousie University, says the surge in respiratory illnesses is likely the result of many people returning to pre-COVID social contact levels, and masks can certainly help keep people safe. “From a science, infectious disease and a virus perspective, when you have three viruses becoming extremely common and needing to reduce their impact, masks are a tool that are still very important along with the vaccines, testing and staying home when you’re sick,” Barrett told SaltWire Network. “If we can’t get community buy-in at a higher level, we’re going to reduce our ability to avoid this really, really bad situation that we’re starting to get into.” In busy malls, supermarkets and big-box stores this holiday shopping season, it’s still common to see many people going about their business unmasked. But knowing the triple respiratory threat we’re facing, how hard can it be to wear one for the amount of time you’re indoors in a crowded situation, such as while shopping, using public transit or sitting in classrooms or crowded entertainment venues? Isn’t it worth a few minutes of inconvenience to mask up if you are able in order to better protect yourself and those around you? We don’t need to wait for governments to tell us to wear masks. We already know it’s one of the best things we can do.