The province is lifting masking requirements in most healthcare facilities across Manitoba.

Shared Health Manitoba made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, saying the changes in masking requirements are based on advice given by infection prevention and control experts and reflect the changes we have seen with virus transmission over the past year.

The change, which applies to most visitors and patients entering healthcare facilities, will take place on May 10.

"Care settings across the province will continue to be mask-friendly. Masks will be available to those who wish to wear them," says Monika Warren, Shared Health's COO of provincially coordinated health services and its chief nursing officer. 

These changes will not apply in settings where there are vulnerable people, including cancer patients and transplant recipients. Masking requirements in these locations will be clearly indicated with signage and will apply to healthcare workers, visitors and all patients who can tolerate wearing a mask.

Individuals who are ill will still be asked to wear a mask when seeking care and should refrain from visiting or accompanying a loved one receiving care.

"Masks continue to be an effective way of limiting virus transmission," says Warren. "For individuals experiencing a significant illness or health event, we want to ensure the environments they visit within our facilities offer them every possible measure to protect their health and wellness."

Medical masks will be available at facility or unit entrances, and healthcare workers will continue to have access to both medical masks and N95 respirators, with staff expected to return to using routine practices and additional precautions to gauge risk and select appropriate PPE.

The move follows similar changes in other Canadian jurisdictions over the past month.