Challenges of COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory illnesses compel hospital to reinstate mask-wearing policy

After having relaxed its mask-wearing policy months ago, the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) is reviving the protocol for visitors, due to several challenges being faced by local healthcare providers and worldwide.

The hospital says it faces a new complex challenge, since, in addition to COVID-19, a host of respiratory viruses – including influenza and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – has taken hold in many countries.

It notes that these viruses, while often manageable, can cause serious outcomes, especially for children; and they can also strain the healthcare system, particularly the hospital.

Therefore, in response to these realities, the hospital says it must reinstate the wearing of masks by all persons who are visiting patients, including in the Emergency Room.

However, all other persons utilizing services at the hospital –

inclusive of the Outpatient Clinic – are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

Dr. A. Dyer, the hospital’s Administrative Head of Infectious Disease and Employee Health, says a community-wide approach is being taken at this time to keep patients and visitors safe.

Dr. Dyer says that masks have been recommended since the start of the pandemic; and, at this point of higher risk, medical officials have to mandate the use of masks once again as part of their precautions for the holiday and tourist season.

Mask-wearing will prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and protect young children, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, the hospital is recommending a number of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of these viruses, including staying up to date with vaccines for the flu and COVID-19.

Residents are also advised to keep their hands clean; to not cough or sneeze into their hands, but into their elbow, instead; to stay home when sick or symptomatic; and to wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask when in public indoor spaces.