The Ottawa Hospital is bringing back a mandatory mask mandate for all clinical areas as of Sept. 11, according to a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday.
“As we prepare for the respiratory virus season, where we anticipate an increased transmission of influenza, Covid-19 and RSV, The Ottawa Hospital will be updating some of our measures and supports to protect patients, staff and members of the public,” the statement read.
“Beginning Sept. 11, masking will be required in all clinical areas and waiting rooms. Clinical areas include inpatient units, patient rooms, nursing stations and ambulatory care areas. Masking will continue to be encouraged, but optional, in all other non-clinical areas,” it continued. “These requirements will be in place for the duration of the respiratory virus season.”
The Ottawa Hospital had eased its masking rules in the spring of 2022, when Covid-19 cases dropped dramatically.
One Ottawa family complained to the hospital after their loved one contracted Covid-19 while staying in the hospital, saying that they saw visitors unmasked in patient rooms, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Respiratory illnesses usually see an uptick in the fall, however Covid-19 cases started to rise in August.
Several other hospitals are bringing back masking as well, like the Perth and Smith Falls District Hospital (PSFDH), which has reinstated mandatory masking throughout its two campuses.
Along with a return to masks the PSFDH said it will also resume a two-metre physical distance requirement “as a proactive approach to supporting safety and wellbeing of all patients, visitors and members of the PSFDH health care team,” said Karen Kelly, a spokesperson for the hospital.
“Reinstating universal masking is one measure to also minimize impacts and pressures on the organization’s health and human resources.”
Natasha Curley, a spokesperson for the Queensway Carleton Hospital, released a statement saying its decision to return to masks was a result of the recent uptick in cases reported by Ottawa Public Health.
“There is no general cause for concern, but we have reintroduced masking as a precautionary measure while we evaluate the changing indicators,” said Curley.
“Queensway Carleton and other hospitals say they are continuing to monitor the situation and will make further adjustments if needed.”