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‘COVID-19 not going away any time soon’: Acting Medical Officer of Health

Dr. Ethan Toumishey

As the number of cases rise above 150 in Hastings Prince Edward counties, and a new variant is on the horizon, the acting medical officer of health states “COVID-19 is not going away any time soon”.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) declared the region at a ‘red’ risk level, referring to a seven-day case rate per 100,000 population at 75.2; seven day average contacts per case 9.4 and two week average seven-day incidence rate at 63.4. Red indicates very high risk, orange indicates high risk, yellow indicates moderate risk, and green indicates low risk.

On Wednesday, HPEPH recorded 29 new cases, bringing the active case load to 151. There are now 16 outbreaks. (Details here)

“The risk is very real and broad,” stated Dr. Ethan Toumishey, acting medical officer of health. “We are seeing transmission broadly in the community in multiple settings.”

Media reports indicate Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce the expansion of eligibility for third-shot boosters on Thursday to anybody aged 50 and up, by mid-December.

Toumishey, at the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health meeting Wednesday, said that if people have exposure, “the chance that you may have COVID is very real and needs to be addressed – staying home, isolating, that you get tested.”

He did not rule out further restrictions as were seen in the last time the region was in the red zone – the difference now considers a higher rate of vaccinations. However, further public health measures may be possible, such as more screening at schools, if cases continue an upward swing.

So far there have been 940 children between the ages of five and 11 vaccinated since the shots were made available last week. There are more than 11,000 children in the region in that age group.

While no new Omicron variant has been noted yet in the region, Toumishey notes there is a “definite possibility and a lot of unknowns about the variant.”

Toumishey noted it will take time to understand the effect of the variant, whether it is more transmissible or if it causes more severe sickness. Five omicron cases have been documented in Canada. Air travellers from all countries except the United States will need to take COVID-19 tests when arriving in Canada regardless of their vaccination status, then self-isolate until they receive results.

He urges the public to stay home if they are ill, isolate and seek testing – even with mild symptoms. He encouraged vaccination as the winter season brings more people indoors.

Filed Under: Local News

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