Provincial Government extending stay-at-home order across most of the province
Tim Brody - Editor
On Monday, the Provincial Government announced it would be maintaining the provincial shutdown in the majority of public health regions in Ontario, including the stay-at-home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures.
The Provincial Government informed that it will gradually transition each region from shutdown measures to a revised colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework.
According to the Provincial Government, regions will gradually transition between February 10 and February 22, subject to a review of trends in public health indicators.
The Northwestern Health Unit region is expected to transition to the Framework on Feb. 16.
The Northwestern Health Unit’s (NWHU) Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, said last Friday when speaking with members of the media that she believed it would be reasonable for lockdown public health restrictions to be lifted.
“Within our catchment area, our rates are relatively low, so we’re hopeful the restrictions can be lifted sooner rather than later, but at the same time I recognize that the province has to make a decision for the entire province,” she said, adding, “I know that small businesses in our area are frustrated with the closure, but we want to thank them for continuing to follow the regulations and finding innovative and safe ways to operate under the current orders. To prevent COVID-19, we must all continue to follow the regulation in place by the province.”
Young Hoon also said last Friday, “Based on our current statistics, if we were to use the response framework of the province, we would be under yellow.” Under the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework, which was paused during the declaration of emergency, yellow would be at the Protect level of public health measures and restrictions.
“I think we would also need to consider very closely what’s happening in Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and we know that things are also improving in Manitoba,” Young Hoon said. “I think it would be reasonable for public health restrictions to be lifted. I think though, however, that we’ll always have to be very, very careful about problems with cases coming in from other jurisdictions. So it would be really important for people to continue minimizing interactions with other households… And it would be very important to also, when we think about the mutations of the virus, the variants of concern, we do know if that variant were to enter our catchment area, it would be very, very challenging to manage,” she added.
Young Hoon said last Friday that if restrictions were to be lifted, people would need to remain vigilant and following public health measures such as physically distancing two metres from others who are not in your household, hand hygiene, staying home if you’re sick and getting tested as soon as possible if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
“It shouldn’t suddenly be a scenario where we can suddenly all start doing lots more socializing and going out and interacting. I think that would be the concern,” she said.
The health unit saw a spike in cases over the weekend, with eight new positive COVID-19 test results in the Kenora region and two new positive COVID-19 test results in the Sioux Lookout region being reported on Feb.6.