BC health officials urge vaccination not masks as COVID cases increase | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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BC health officials urge vaccination not masks as COVID cases increase

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COVID-19 is on a resurgence around the world and some jurisdictions have brought back mask mandates as a defensive tactic.

But heath officials in BC are stressing voluntary vaccines rather than masks.

“We urge all people in BC to continue to follow public-health advice and to stay home when sick, wear masks when appropriate, follow respiratory etiquette, wash hands frequently, and, most importantly, stay up to date on your vaccinations,” says a joint statement to iNFOnews.ca from the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

A new vaccine will be offered this fall for people who have gone six months or more since their last shot.

“Although there is insufficient information at this time to assess vaccine effectiveness specifically against the EG.5 variant, we know the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are effective against Omicron variants in reducing the risk of severe illness and hospitalization,” the statement says. “We expect that, because they are closely related, the updated vaccine that will be available in the fall will also provide good protection against XBB and EG.5 and other related subvariants.”

There were 119 hospitalizations and 12 deaths related to COVID in the most recent week (Aug. 27 to Sept. 2) for which data is available from the BC Centre for Disease Control. There were 447 cases reported during the week. That’s about three times the number from three weeks earlier but about half the number for the same time period in 2022.

“There has been an observed increase in national percent positivity over the latest seven reporting weeks following a period of decline,” says a posting on the Canadian Centre for Disease Control’s website.

Some eastern Ontario hospitals have brought back mask requirements.

For example, Kingston Health Service Centre requires masks in its emergency department, children’s outpatient clinic and its urgent care centre while Ottawa Hospital is requiring masks in all clinical areas and waiting rooms.

READ MORE: Some Ontario hospitals are reinstating masking requirements

In the U.S., various businesses and schools have brought in mask mandates such as the Lionsgate studio in Santa Monica, California on certain floors and Morris Brown College in Atlanta.

Mask mandates have also been brought into a number of hospitals in the U.S. and one school district in Kentucky closed for two days citing a wave of COVID, strep throat, flu and other illnesses, according to Spectrum News.

READ MORE: Should masks be back-to-school wear in BC?

“COVID-19 continues to spread globally, and the virus continues to adapt,” the statement from Dr. Henry said. “Reducing transmission and having high levels of protection through vaccination continue to be our best defence against all variants of COVID-19.

"People who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 or require hospitalization.”

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