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One of North Bay’s top doctors tells northerners to mask-up

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise as well as other respiratory infections, federal and provincial medical officials are encouraging people to masks up. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is recommending the same, when indoors in crowded places.

"I would recommend individuals wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces," said Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, the health unit’s associate medical officer of health.

"Of course, individuals should not be going out with a respiratory virus and should put a mask on when recovering from the illness."

The recommendation of masking comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in this region and as they are seeing an increase in cases of other respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus or RVS.

"Wearing a mask is particularly important for those who are high risk to an illness," she added.

Zimbalatti told CTV News she understands some people have gotten used to not having to wear a mask, but said it's one of the best protective measures.

"No measure is 100 per cent, that’s true for masks as well, but we know that they help," she said.

"It's not 100 per cent and you have to combine that with other infection control measures but they do help."

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore is set to make a general recommendation to wear masks, specifically in crowded areas, two sources told The Canadian Press. The recommendation is one of the strongest moves outside of a mandate to help curb the spread of viruses in the community. However, a province-wide mask mandate is not expected to be announced.

"It's a combination of viruses," said Zimbalatti.

"Influenza is taking off more quickly than in previous years that is a concern. Respiratory syncytial virus is one that particularly affects the younger children and that is being a factor as well."

The Ontario Hospital Association is also asking Ontario residents to wear masks indoors and to get up-to-date vaccinations for COVID-19 and influenza. 

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