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Mask Mandates Reintroduced in Ottawa-Area Hospitals

The Ottawa Hospital has made face masks mandatory in all clinical areas and waiting rooms, due to COVID-19 and some seasonal respiratory viruses such as influenza.

In a Sept. 6 announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Ottawa Hospital said the new masking requirement will take effect on Sept. 11, and remain “in place for the duration of the respiratory virus season.”

“As we prepare for respiratory virus season, where we anticipate increased transmission of influenza, COVID-19 and RSV, The Ottawa Hospital will be updating some of our measures and supports to help protect patients, staff and members of the public.”

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Beginning Sept. 11, masking will be required in all clinical areas and waiting rooms, including inpatient units, patient rooms, nursing stations and ambulatory care areas.

“Masking will continue to be encouraged, but optional, in all other non-clinical areas,” the hospital said.

It had previously dropped masking requirements in the summer in some public places including hallways, cafeterias, elevators, and meeting rooms. Masks never stopped being mandatory in patient rooms and hospital units, including the emergency department. The policy now sees a return to masks in the majority of areas.

Ottawa-area Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital has also made masks mandatory at its two sites.

Karen Kelly, a spokesperson for the hospital, told the Ottawa Citizen that the decision to reinstate universal masking, along with two-metre physical distancing requirements, was “a proactive approach to supporting safety and wellbeing” of all patients, visitors, and members.

As of Aug. 10, wearing a mask is recommended, but no longer mandatory in most areas of the local Montfort Hospital, except for the emergency department, where it is still required. The Queensway Carleton Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) still require masking in clinical areas and emergency rooms.

U.S. Mandates

A number of regions in the United States has seen a return to mandatory masking, with officials warning of a COVID subvariant dubbed EG.5, also called “Eris,” and another version FL.1.45.1, called “Fornax.” Another emerging subvariant is called BA.2.86, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said is likely more able to cause infections in those who have received COVID shots or who may have previously contracted COVID.

Earlier this week, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden was said to have tested positive for COVID-19 but displayed only mild symptoms. Accordingly, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced

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