The future of COVID-19 restrictions in Chatham-kent will be a cautious approach.
Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby has previously said he won’t hesitate to impose tougher public health restrictions than what the province mandates if need be.
Colby said he doesn’t want Chatham-Kent to go back to the problems associated with the old provincial colour-coded system when people restricted in one region would travel to a non-restricted neighbouring region. He said many issues came when people would travel to do what was restricted in their hometown, such as haircuts.
“We’ve been through this before in the pandemic. If you have vastly different restrictions in adjacent health units, it does create a problem, and even if you create a regional approach, there is a boundary somewhere with another region,” said Colby.
After the province announced it would be putting the responsibility for future COVID-19 restrictions on regional public health units, Colby said the approach must be cautious.
He mentioned that CK had a situation early on during the colour-coding stage where people could get haircuts in Chatham-Kent but not in Windsor. Colby said this led to many coming to CK from a very high incidence and prevalence jurisdiction.
“We want to avoid that kind of situation in the future,” said Colby.
The region’s top doctor said he vowed early on during the pandemic that he would do whatever was necessary to keep the people of Chatham-Kent safe.
Colby said despite the low number of cases within the region; he cannot relax.
“I don’t relax while there’s a pandemic taking place,” added Colby.
Dr. Colby also said the very aggressive case identification and contact management system at Chatham-Kent Public Health remains a key part of keeping the new infections at bay in the municipality.
“I was hoping that in the post-vaccination era that we would largely be able to dispense with that, but that has not been the case, and our contact tracing functions are as important as ever,” said Colby.
As of Nov. 19, there are 55 active cases in Chatham-Kent. Among those 12 and older in the municipality, 83 percent are fully vaccinated.
Colby added he is expecting to begin the rollout of vaccines to children aged five to 11 by the end of the month.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News