Expert urges caution as COVID-19 transmission remains high

Summer is around the corner, and with the sixth wave of the pandemic appearing to slow, York Region's top doctor urges caution.

The medical officer of health, Dr. Barry Pakes, told CTV News that the pandemic is not over although this recent wave is easing.

"We are by no means out of the woods yet," said Dr. Pakes.

He noted that it is safe for those who are fully vaccinated and healthy to attend long weekend events but said people must be cognizant of those who are immunocompromised.

"In situations like that, when you know there's a person like that, or when you don't know where you're going to be in close contact with them in a confined space, you might want to wear a mask."

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Dr. Pakes said medical experts are now looking towards the fall when many are preparing for future COVID-19 waves or other respiratory illnesses impacting Ontario hospitals.

He mentioned that a worst-case scenario would be a variant of the more severe virus, which would mean a renewed mask mandate or the reopening of mass immunization centres.

At present, Dr. Pakes said York Region is in "good shape" heading into summer.

"As good of shape as possible is where we want to end up. Transmission is still fairly high, meaning people who are still vulnerable are still worried."