Quebec hospitals facing ‘triple threat’ of viruses as doctors group recommends masking

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Quebec’s college of physicians is recommending masking in public spaces amid a rise in respiratory viruses in children.

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, the college pointed to overburdened pediatric emergency rooms as the reason for a return to masking.

The measure is to “protect yourself and to protect others,” the tweet read in French.

The order recommended masks be worn on a “voluntary and preventive basis” in public places, crowded private spaces and on public transit.

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It said hospitals were facing a “triple threat” of viruses — COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

The college also urged Quebecers to be especially cautious as the holiday season approaches, reminding people to keep up to date with their vaccinations.

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On Monday morning, the Montreal Children’s Hospital ER was operating at 100 per cent capacity, while Sainte-Justine was at 94 per cent, according to latest hospital data.

At the beginning of the month, Quebec’s top doctor acknowledged that while coronavirus indicators in the province seemed to have been improving since the middle of October, other viruses like RSV were in circulation.

To curb the spread of those viruses, Dr. Luc Boileau advised people not to go out when they are sick and to wear face masks if they have any symptoms.

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Reacting at the time, Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC),

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In the same breath, however, public health dropped the mandatory five-day isolation period for COVID-19 causing consternation among many health professionals.

“The logical train of thought would be that, well, let’s try to mitigate respiratory illnesses in the community so they don’t find themselves congesting the emergency rooms and hospitals,” said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist with the MUHC.

Vinh made the statement following Dr. Boileau’s Nov. 3 coronavirus update.

In Ontario, the chief medical officer issued a statement Monday strongly recommending masking in all public indoor spaces but stopped short of making it mandatory.

— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise, Elizabeth Zogalis and The Canadian Press



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