Health unit strongly recommends mask use as layer of protection

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Simcoe Muskoka District Health (SMDHU) is seeing higher and earlier than normal rates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza in our communities, in addition to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 infection. To protect against this ‘triple threat’ of infection and severe illness, the health unit strongly recommends using multiple layers of protection against these viruses this fall and winter.

“Young children, the elderly and those with medical conditions are at increased risk of serious illness from these respiratory viruses, and we are already seeing the impact on the health care system with more medical visits and hospitalizations particularly for young children throughout the province including in Simcoe and Muskoka,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “These trends are expected to continue as more time is spent indoors. By wearing a mask indoors and layering protective measures, we can help prevent viral spread and lower the risk of illness impacting our schools, workplaces, and local health care system.”

In keeping with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation, the health unit strongly recommends that people wear masks in all indoor public settings, including schools and child care settings. Mask use, combined with other protective measures, can help to reduce the risk of becoming ill and protect those closest to us. The layers of protection include the following:

Knowing your risk by checking the Simcoe Muskoka COVID-19 Community Risk Level, and determining the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 infection and serious illness;

  • Wearing a mask in indoor public settings, including schools and child care settings. This recommendation includes children two to five years of age if they can tolerate a mask;
  • Getting the annual flu shot and staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations;
  • Staying home if you are ill and keeping children home from school or child care if they are ill;
  • Screening yourself and children daily using the Screening Tool and following its instructions; and Washing hands and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.

For more information, visit our website or contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721- 7520, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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