NWHU advises of increased COVID-19 risk in Sioux Lookout area
Tim Brody - Editor
According to a media release issued by the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) on the afternoon of April 10, NWHU is seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive test results, including one Variant of Concern (VOC), in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub.
NWHU defines the Sioux Lookout Health Hub region as including: Sioux Lookout, Pickle Lake, Hudson, Bearskin Lake, Cat Lake, Deer Lake, Kee-Way-Win, Lac Seul, Neskantaga, MacDowell Lake, Muskrat Dam Lake, North Spirit Lake, Osnaburgh, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Sachigo Lake, Sandy Lake, Slate Falls and Weagamow Lake.
NWHU informed that as of April 10, there are 34 active cases in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub which includes 16 active cases in the Municipality of Sioux Lookout. The NWHU is urging the public to practise prevention measures as case counts increase.
“The case numbers and investigations indicate increased risk of the spread of COVID 19 in the health hub and in the municipality” said Dr. Kit Young Hoon, NWHU Medical Officer of Health. “With such a large number of cases and the risk of the Variant of Concern, things can change rapidly and Sioux Lookout area residents must follow public health restrictions to prevent broad spread of the virus.”
On April 8, NWHU advised it had received reports of six new positive COVID-19 test results in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub region.
The following day NWHU advised that it had received reports of nine new positive test results in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub.
NWHU advised that it had received four new positive COVID-19 test results in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub on April 10 and that it had received one new positive COVID-19 test result in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub on April 11.
Speaking with regional media on April 9, Dr. Young Hoon said of the situation in Sioux Lookout, “At this point case and contact investigation would have been initiated. Some of it is still ongoing and of course people will be monitored and we’ll be looking for linkages to get a better sense of if there was a specific situation that led to this increase. At this point, it’s a bit too early to say exactly what’s going on, but we are monitoring the situation closely. In Sioux Lookout we are also trying to make sure supports are in place for cases in contact so they are able to self-isolate.”
Asked about the possibility of increasing vaccine allotment to Sioux Lookout due to the increase in cases, Dr. Young Hoon stated, “Definitely I think we can consider that moving forward depending on what the situation is showing.”
Commenting on the NWHU’s vaccination efforts, Dr. Young Hoon informed, “From our allotment of Moderna vaccine, over 14,000 doses have now been given in the region. More clinics are being added to the booking site. Some communities have been filling up very quickly, and we will monitor the clinic numbers daily and add more as availability becomes limited. We ask that residents refrain from booking in other communities and wait for spots in their home community, when it’s available. At the bottom of our booking website (https://www.nwhu.on.ca/covid19/Pages/booking-COVID19-vaccine-appointment.aspx), we now show the locations and dates of clinics to keep the public informed and we will be adding more clinics fairly shortly.”
As of April 7 anyone born in 1961 or earlier can book an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine in the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) area. These residents can book online at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-833- 943-3900.
In addition to those born in 1961 or earlier, the following groups are also eligible to book an appointment:
- Health Care Workers, including staff who work in congregate living settings
- Adult Home Care Recipients
- Faith leaders who provide end of life care, care of the deceased, funerals, home visits to unwell persons, or pastoral care in hospitals, LTCH, etc.
- Indigenous adults, including Metis aged 18+ (and their household members)
Those with the following health conditions:
- Organ transplant recipients;
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
- People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
- Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
- Sickle cell disease;
- Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
- Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above
Anyone who is in the groups listed above must fill out the NWHU’s registration form to then receive a booking code and instructions from the Ministry of Health. For more information on the vaccine booking process and to view dates of clinics by community, people can visit NWHU’s booking site.
Dr. Young Hoon continued, “We have received questions about vaccine wastage, and it seems to be a hot topic across the province. At this point, we have not been informed of wastage of COVID-19 vaccine in our region. A vial of vaccine has 10 doses in it and we plan our clinics accordingly. When no shows happen, we have a list of eligible populations that we call so that each dose is used. In theory, the most spots we would ever have to fill is nine. We would not open a new vial if we did not have people to use it.”
Last Thursday, April 8, The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, declared a third provincial emergency and issued a province wide stay-at-home order in response to the “rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province’s hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.”
The stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
More information can be found at: https://bit.ly/2QbPZnc.
Dr. Young Hoon shared, “Our staff are communicating with local businesses about what this means and the regulations they must follow. The public are reminded they should not be gathering with anyone outside of their household and should be only leaving their house for essential reasons.
“During the school break, I urge the public to not gather with other families for play dates. You must follow the stay-at-home order rules. You can get outside for exercise, but please only do it with members of your household. COVID-19 is most likely to spread through close contact with others and you’re putting your loved ones at risk by getting together.”
Elementary and secondary school students across the province will move to teacher-led remote learning following the April break.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, made the announcement on April 12, stating the decision was “in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.”
NWHU recommends that everyone assume COVID-19 is in their community and follow the stay-at-home order, current restrictions and practise preventive measures like physical distancing, wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces and when physical distancing is a challenge, good hand hygiene, and not touching their face. NWHU said anyone who has symptoms, or who has been in contact with a positive case, should self-isolate and get tested.