Medical officer recommends masks

surgical-mask

With Ontario taking steps towards re-opening, Renfrew County’s acting medical officer of health is recommending that area residents wear a mask at the grocery store and other places where people will be close by.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit issued a statement Friday saying that Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health, has recommended that residents “wear masks in public, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

“An example is wearing a mask in grocery stores or when you must come into close contact with others.”

According to Dr. Cushman, “it is particularly important (that) if you cannot observe the two-metre rule, it is best to wear a mask.”

The health unit said Dr. Cushman’s recommendation was “in response to the easing of mobility restrictions provincially across the province.”

“It is supported by the increasing evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of face masks as a prevention tool in the transmission of COVID-19.

“With reports showing that 50-75% of individuals with COVID-19 infections have no symptoms or mild symptoms, it is important that we continue to act as though anyone could transmit the infection.

“Therefore, it is important that we all continue to take the necessary measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

The health unit said some of those measures include “wearing a mask when maintaining a two-metre distance is not possible, cleaning your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, practising physical distancing, and staying home if you are ill.”

The health unit began its statement by thanking “all residents for their continued efforts in keeping our community safe in the fight against COVID-19.”

“You are helping to keep the prevalence and incidence at bay within our community, and we thank you for your participation, cooperation and enthusiasm,” Dr. Cushman stated.

For more information, on masks and facial coverings, or all things COVID-19 related, visit the RCDHU website at www.rcdhu.com or call 613-735-8651 ext. 516.

Hospital

Meanwhile, the Deep River and District Hospital has announced that “universal masking” is now in effect at the hospital and North Renfrew Family Health Team.

“The enhanced protection measure means that all staff, patients, visitors, and persons in the building will be required to wear a mask at all times.”

The hospital said all persons entering the organization will be screened as before, however, “they will now be provided with a mask to wear for the duration of their stay.”

“Individuals are encouraged to wear their own mask from home to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by health care workers at higher risk.

“A mask will be provided to any individual who does not have one at the point of entry, or who requires a higher level of protection than the mask they arrive in.”

“The implementation of universal masking was done based on a proactive assessment of risk,” said Janna Hotson, vice-president of clinical services and COVID-19 response team lead.

“As the health care industry begins to plan to resume more clinical services, and as the province progressively lifts restrictions, masking of all individuals across the organization assists in minimizing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to our essential health care workforce.”

Health Canada has sanctioned and encouraged the use of cloth masks by the public, for “outward protection,” i.e. to protect others from the possible germs of the wearer.

“The goal of the public wearing masks is to reduce overall transmission of the virus, therefore protecting all of us.”

The hospital said it has received a number of hand-sewn cloth masks from members of the community, “and we are so grateful for the support.”

“If there are additional volunteers willing to donate cloth masks using their own materials, we will gladly accept them.

“Donated masks can be dropped off in the blue bin located outside of the Emergency Department entrance. Thank you for helping us continue to provide excellent, compassionate health care in the safest way possible.”

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