BRAUN: Health-care workers call for masks and boosters; pandemic not over

BRAUN: Health-care workers call for masks and boosters; pandemic not over


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A few days ago, Dr. Brad Wouters tweeted:

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“BA.5 reaching 70% average this week in Toronto. Official 3rd wave of Omicron is here. Will peak in July/August. Mask and boost as warranted.”

Wouters — executive vice-president, science and research, University Health Network and senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre  — later noted on Twitter that this third wave of Omicron is actually the seventh wave of COVID.

Three new Omicron variants are making their move on the planet right now: BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already said these ones have a “growth advantage” over early Omicron and can evade immune responses even better than their predecessors, according to the

Here in Ontario, political leaders debate the timing of fourth boosters. Mask mandates were dropped weeks ago.

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Doctors, nurses and other health-care workers, however, are sounding the alarm.

COVID numbers are on the rise in Canada, the U.K. and in the U.S.

Masking in all health-care scenarios and fourth dose COVID booster shots are the ask from those on the pandemic frontline, who  — as always — are light years ahead of politicians in their response to the ongoing pandemic.

Right now, a fourth booster is available only to those over 60, various Indigenous groups and the immunocompromised.

That’s been the status since April, although Premier Doug Ford said last week that word on fourth boosters would be coming soon.

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Given the rapid rise of the new variants and a jump in wastewater evidence and hospitalizations, many in Ontario should be getting that fourth booster now.

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The province lags behind other jurisdictions, so some health-care workers are travelling to Quebec and into the U.S. to get that booster immediately.

Meanwhile, a group of physicians has signed a letter asking to go back to mask mandates in health-care settings and that petition is being circulated on social media.

It was launched by ER doctor Stephen Flindall (@flindall_steve) and signed by about 100 doctors.

It is patently absurd that masks are not required in doctor’s offices or hospitals.

At the end of June, Public Health Ontario highlights included the information that weekly case numbers increased 23% among those eligible for testing.

Reported cases increased for the first time since April.

Hospital admissions and deaths have “stopped declining.”

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All congregate care and congregate living settings, except for hospitals, report more outbreak-associated cases.

It is known that the next big COVID wave is expected this fall.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, told the Commons health committee earlier in June that a seventh wave is a real threat and that the pandemic is not over.

When various politicians began grousing about mandates, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos reminded participants that 10,000 Canadians died of COVID between January and May.

Mask mandates may return if the health system gets overwhelmed.

A very high percentage of the population in Canada is vaccinated against COVID, which will likely protect people from further lockdowns.

The vaccines, according to new data published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, are estimated to have saved almost 20 million lives globally.

The world death toll from COVID  is now 6.3 million.

Anyone hoping to avoid COVID should continue masking indoors. Research suggests that multiple COVID infections lead to susceptibility and potentially to Long COVID.


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