Ontario extending mask mandate for high-risk indoor settings like hospitals, public transit

Ontario is extending its mask mandate for high-risk indoor settings amid the ongoing sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health minister’s office said Friday.

More details are expected from Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, later Friday. The mandate, which applies to settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, congregate living spaces and public transit, was set to expire on April 27.

Health Minister Christine Elliott had said that the government was waiting for a formal recommendation on extending the mandate from Moore before making a decision. 

Speaking during a health-care funding announcement in Uxbridge today, Elliott said Moore had provided his guidance and that the government would implement his recommendations.

The news comes as admissions of COVID-19 to intensive care units climbed to another sixth-wave high Friday, though overall COVID-19 hospitalizations declined slightly. The province also reported the deaths of 26 more more people with the illness.

Of the 214 ICU patients, 61 per cent were admitted to critical care as a direct result of COVID-19 symptoms.

The total number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals dropped to 1,591, down from 1,626 on Thursday. Roughly 46 per cent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were admitted due to the illness, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported another 4,668 confirmed COVID-19 cases as part of a “data catch up.” In a statement, a ministry spokesperson said the count is not reflective of a single-day increase, but provided no further details on when the additional cases may have occurred.

Today’s count follows the 5,038 cases reported yesterday, an unknown percentage of which were also attributed to a data catch up. Requests from CBC News to the ministry for more information about the cases have so far gone unanswered.

Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll now stands at 12,704.

Public health units administered another 36,134 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, the majority of which were second booster shots for eligible Ontarians aged 60 and older. More than 87 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and up have had at least two doses of vaccines. 

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