TORONTO — Ontario will extend its remaining mask mandate in high-risk settings until June 11 as the province deals with a sixth wave of COVID-19 infections. 

The rule requiring masks in health-care settings, long-term care homes and public transit had been due to expire on April 27, but the government announced on Friday it would be extended.

“To protect our progress in managing this latest wave, I am maintaining masking requirements in specific public settings where individuals who are, or may be, at increased risk of severe outcomes, are in close contact for extended periods of time,” Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s top doctor, said in a statement. 

Moore said following masking requirements and keeping up with vaccinations are “the best ways we can prevent transmission and protect our friends, families, and our communities.”

Most other pandemic measures, including masking in most public settings, proof-of-vaccination rules and crowd capacity limits, have ended in the province.

Other settings where masks will now be required until June 11 include retirement homes, shelters and other congregate care settings. 

Other directives from the chief medical officer around mask requirements for health-care workers and paramedics and long-term care measures were also due to expire on April 27 but the province says those will now remain until June 11 as well. 

At that point, the province says the health ministry “will issue guidance on personal protective equipment recommendations for infection prevention and control in health care settings.”

Ontario also announced on Friday it would start providing an antibody treatment for immunocompromised people that provides protection against COVID-19. The province said the two-shot treatment called Evusheld would be available in the coming weeks for organ and stem cell transplant recipients, some cancer patients undergoing treatment and CAR-T therapy recipients. 

Ontario reported 1,591 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, a slight decrease from 1,626 the previous day, and 214 COVID-19 patients in intensive care compared to 207 patients in ICU on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press



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