Some of Nova Scotia’s top doctors want the province to make masks mandatory again as COVID-19 cases in the province hit an all-time high.
But Premier Tim Houston told reporters Thursday afternoon that he was not ready to do so.
Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist and clinician at Dalhousie University, said she was part of a group of doctors who recommended the province reintroduce the mask rule until at least the end of April. .
She also wants testing and isolation requirements to return.
Nova Scotia has been without a mask mandate since March 21, when the province lifted most health restrictions related to COVID-19. Masks are still required in schools, prisons, courts and health facilities and people who test positive must self-isolate for seven days.
“Without a rule right now around masking, people just don’t have the capacity or the social capital to make the right decisions all the time,” Barrett told CBC Radio. Main Street.
Responding to those concerns, the Prime Minister said “there was a time and a place for restrictions”, but they were not meant to be in place forever.
“Things have changed. We have high vaccination rates. The variant is different. Those are all facts,” Houston said.
“There would be a lot of people who have opinions on the facts, but the opinions and the advice that I rely on, that the government should rely on, is that of public health.”
At Thursday’s briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said his commitment to protecting the health of Nova Scotians hasn’t wavered and it’s time to make restrictive measures.
There are ramifications that come with public health rules, Houston said, pointing to impacts on the mental health and social interactions of Nova Scotians.
“I don’t want to give the impression for a second that all of this doesn’t weigh on any elected official,” he said. “These are tough decisions.”
High vaccination rates are not enough, says Barrett
Even though Nova Scotia has a high vaccination rate, Barrett said vaccination rates alone aren’t enough to stop the current surge in cases, and that a “wait-and-see approach is the way to let the virus win.” “.
On Thursday, Public Health released its weekly COVID-19 update, which has seen an average of nearly 1,000 PCR positive cases per day.
“This is the highest amount of virus we’ve ever seen, the most transmissible version of this virus we’ve seen, and this is our current living situation in Nova Scotia,” Barrett said. .
She said vaccinations, masking and other health protocols must be used together to be most effective.
“Together is their strength, and if only 5% of people wear masks, that tool loses its power. It’s important that people understand,” she said.
Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, said if you’re visiting grocery stores and malls in Nova Scotia right now, it’s clear a lot of people are choosing not to wear masks indoors. .
He said public health needs to take heed and think about bringing back the mask mandate, “at least until the weather warms up more and people are spending most of their time outdoors.”
Information Morning – N.S.9:01Immunologist Dr. Scott Halperin on the high number of COVID cases in N.S.
Houston said this week in a Twitter video that even though there is a lot of COVID, there is no need for public warrants because Nova Scotians now know how to protect themselves and their families.
Halperin doesn’t think people are getting the right message.
“Unfortunately, the public gets the message: well, if public health really wanted the public to do this, they would just put the mandates back in place,” he said.
NS reports eight deaths
He is concerned about the capacity of Nova Scotia’s health care system as more than 600 health care workers are off work for COVID-related reasons. Hospitals are currently at 99.5% capacity, according to Nova Scotia Health.
But what concerns him most is the number of Nova Scotians who are still dying from the virus.
Nova Scotia reported eight deaths last week and there are currently 57 people hospitalized with their COVID-19 symptoms.
“While before it was mostly outbreaks in long-term care facilities, we’re seeing people in the community getting COVID and dying,” Haplerin said.
“I don’t think people should think the pandemic is over by any stretch of the imagination.”
NS Main Street26:38Infectious disease expert Dr Lisa Barrett calls for a return to mandatory masks