Start your personal lockdown now, Haldimand-Norfolk’s top doc says

·2 min read

Haldimand-Norfolk’s top doctor says residents should not wait until Boxing Day to follow public health advice to stay at home.

“If I had to think of one thing that was particularly concerning for me, it’s dining events and people travelling for the holidays,” said medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai.

“Let me be clear — for Christmas, for Christmas Eve, you should just dine with your own household. Opening Christmas gifts, stay in your own household. To visit other people, visit them virtually.”

Nesathurai called the upcoming 28-day lockdown announced by Premier Doug Ford on Monday “a step forward in the strategy to try and control COVID-19.”

But he said residents’ conduct is what will ultimately determine how long the pandemic lasts and how quickly the virus spreads.

“The advice we’ve been giving for a long time is to stay at home unless you have a compelling reason to leave the house,” Nesathurai said. “That’s as valuable a piece of advice now as it was at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Nesathurai said he does not plan to impose further restrictions locally than those laid out in the province’s plan, which bans indoor dining, extends school holidays and limits access to many stores and services as of Dec. 26.

While acknowledging that the restrictions will cause “some level of inconvenience to the community,” Nesathurai said they will be worth it if the virus slows and hospitals don’t run out of ICU beds.

“I remain optimistic that we’ll be able to reduce the case counts,” he said. “But we’ll have to evaluate that by following the data. I would not be surprised if the restrictions continue beyond the 28 days.”

As of Monday, there were 72 active cases of COVID-19 in Haldimand-Norfolk, including new long-term-care outbreaks at Caressant Care in Courtland, Norview Lodge in Simcoe and Beacon Home community residence in Dunnville.

One staff member at each facility has tested positive.

In total, 800 people in Haldimand-Norfolk have tested positive for COVID-19, including 104 new cases in the past two weeks.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator