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Science table still favours masking, predicts moderate uptick in COVID hospitalizations

Science table still favours masking, predicts moderate uptick in COVID hospitalizations

As the day approaches where masks will no longer be mandatory in Ontario, the Ontario Covid Science Table presented a cautious forecast of the impact of the relaxation. The panel pointed out that case numbers and ICU have stopped declining; although there is considerable regional variation. The table projects that given the relaxation of public health measures and consequent increase in transmission, hospital and ICU occupancy will likely increase over the next few weeks, but less than in January 2022 and for a limited period of time if changes in behaviour are only moderate. Hospital occupancy will likely rise to around 800 with moderate increase in transmission and ICU cases could hit under the samew scenario.

Vaccination is still the best defence the table reports. Modelling suggests that 3rd doses substantially reduced COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU occupancy A complete vaccine series (currently two doses in children, three doses in adults, four in long-term care residents and other eligible high-risk groups) 18 is the best defence against getting and spreading COVID-19. But the reported noted that vaccination rates at all age groups has plateaued. Lower income neighbourhoods continue to be hit hardest by the pandemic, also during the fifth wave caused by Omicron

Despite the lifting of masking restrictions, the report maintains that wearing a still an effective public health measure to reduce COVID-19 transmission.  The cloth mask lowered the odds of testing positive by 66 percent and a surgical mask lowered the odds by 66 percent.

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