When Ontario's chief medical officer of health appears before reporters on Monday, Doctor Keiran Moore is expected to appeal to Ontarians to mask up once again.
The Toronto Star and the Canadian Press report Moore will make the recommendation, but there will be no mandate to wear a mask. Sources the two media organizations spoke with only confirmed the coming directive on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Moore has warned hospitals, already experiencing staffing shortages, could suffer added strain as COVID-19 returns, and influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, make a comeback after two years of lower case numbers due to pandemic restrictions.
The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario opened a second pediatric unit this past week. According to the Canadian Press, CHEO and Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children are redeploying staff to intensive care and emergency departments in preparation for tough weeks ahead.
At Windsor Regional Hospital earlier this week, Chief Nursing Executive Karen Riddell said some pediatric patients are infected with all three viruses. So far, Windsor Regional is managing an increase in pediatric patients.
Ontario ended its masking mandate in most indoor public locations last March, although it remained in effect in healthcare settings for several weeks longer.
Almost 84 per cent of Ontario residents have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but only 52 per cent have had three. Uptake for the fourth dose is even lower.
The Toronto Star reported a recent Forum survey found only 53 per cent of respondents supported bringing back a mask mandate. Only 16 per cent said they currently wear masks.