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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks in the press theatre at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on March 10.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s provincial health officer says she doesn’t believe there’s a need for the “heavy hand” of a mask mandate.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said while influenza cases are up, 90 per cent of people in the province have some immunity to the COVID-19 virus through vaccination, infection or both.

Dr. Henry said masks are an important tool, but they should be used in situations where it makes sense, including in health care settings.

She said B.C.’s hospitals are seeing an increase in influenza, which is preventable by getting a vaccine.

“I do not believe we need the heavy hand of a mandate to send a clear message that masks are an important tool that we can all use during this time and in every respiratory season. We should have one with us, we should use it in situations where it makes sense.”

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Dr. Henry said wearing a mask may differ during situations, such as on a crowded bus, or if a person is worried they might be unwell.

“If I have a sick child at home, I may wear a mask in my workplace to be extra cautious, even though I’m feeling well and I need to go, and I can go, in to work,” she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said 1.2 million B.C. residents have already received a flu shot this year, twice as many as last year.

He said the province is opening more hospital beds in preparation for the flu season, but the situation isn’t as desperate as in other provinces.