With multiple respiratory illnesses on the rise, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit is urging Highlanders to wear masks indoors

“The focus has shifted from COVID19 to the earlier than normal rise of RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] and influenza, where we are seeing higher numbers of seriously ill children than had been expected,” said chief medical officer of health, Dr. Natalie Bocking, in a Nov. 15 media release.

“Therefore, I support and strongly recommend wearing your mask at indoor public settings, including schools and childcare centres. It’s our children, the very young and vulnerable, that require our collective action right now.”

Bocking said COVID-19, influenza, and RSV are contributing to a “surge” in children being admitted to hospitals in recent weeks across Ontario. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto announced Nov. 11 it would be limiting surgeries to redeploy staff to urgent care units.

The HKPR said most impacted by influenza and RSV are children too young to mask properly.

“By wearing a mask at indoor public settings, as well as schools and childcare centres, and if/when respiratory symptoms are noted, we can protect the most vulnerable in our community during this challenging respiratory virus season.”

Bocking also urged Highlanders to get their flu vaccine.

“Vaccination against influenza remains especially important during this respiratory season,” she said.

“Children six months of age and older, pregnant women, families and caregivers with young children, healthcare workers and elderly, and those with underlying health conditions should get their flu shot as soon as possible.”