Niagara Region’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji is reminding Niagara residents of the importance and effectiveness of mask-wearing during the current wave of Covid-19, as cases remain high.

Hirji also continues to advocate to the provincial government for a temporary return of broad mask requirements in indoor settings. He has joined the medical officers of health of Peterborough Public Health and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in writing an open letter to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to broaden his new section 22 order on masking.

According to a media release from the Region on Thursday, May 5, wastewater data from the Ontario Science Table shows that transmission has remained stubbornly high since mid April. Hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients in Niagara are hitting new highs in this wave, and local hospitalizations for the past three weeks have been close to the peaks of the second and third waves.

Unmeasured are the children missing school due to isolation, says the Region, adults missing work due to exposure, employers struggling to operate due to Covid-19 related absenteeism, and people suffering from long Covid-19.

In addition to calling for a temporary provincial mask requirement, Hirji is also urging all residents of Niagara to continue to wear masks voluntarily in indoor spaces around others to help beat back this wave.

“Masks enable us to return to our pre-pandemic activities with much less risk of getting sick or harming others,” reads the statement.

Hirji also continues to recommend all organizations maintain their masking policies during this time of high transmission, and reminds the public that masks are still required by the province in:

▶︎ Public transit
▶︎ Health care settings
▶︎ Long-term care and retirement homes
▶︎ Congregate care settings

Masks are also still required for those who are:

▶︎ Infected with COVID-19 but are on day 6-10 of their infection and have been released from self-isolation
▶︎ A contact of a confirmed case but are not required to isolate