Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), said they have received another shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to complete the first doses for residents of long-term care homes and elder care homes in the area.
Young Hoon adds that the shipment is enough to complete vaccinations of long-term care homes along with residents and staff of elder care homes of First Nation communities.
Due to safety reasons, Young Hoon said the NWHU is avoiding speaking on the number of doses. For example, when the vaccine will arrive, where the vaccines are located and when the vaccine is being transported will all be kept confidential.
Young Hoon adds that until the vaccine reaches the public, there are ways to get prepared for it. She said for individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have an autoimmune disorder, are immunocompromised to talk to your doctor or another healthcare provider to see if you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Young Hoon recommends contacting them now to discuss the benefits and the risks of the vaccine.
There are no new COVID-19 cases to report in the region.
The NWHU’s weekly health hub report was released and posted to their website on Tuesday. As of Monday, there were 13 active cases in the Kenora health hub and four active cases in the Sioux Lookout health hub. All recent cases in the Kenora health hub are close contacts of other known cases.
As the NWHU prepares to meet the vaccination deadline of Feb. 10, they are also preparing for the reopening of small businesses and other services after the new lockdown end date of Feb. 16. Young Hoon said this date may be subject to change depending on the province.
“The NWHU will be communicating with local businesses across the region that are inspected by the health unit and regional representatives of small businesses,” Young Hoon said. “Further updates will be provided when we have a clear picture of where we will fall in the COVID-19 response framework.”
Young Hoon said they are keeping the province informed on case trends in the region.
“We’re generally seeing at this time that case numbers are manageable, case and contact management is working and that people are generally following public health measures and public health restrictions,” Young Hoon said. “That helps [the province] to figure out which restrictions are more useful and which are less useful for our catchment area.”
Young Hoon said the stay-at-home order has been effective in discouraging people from interacting with other households and has likely reduced case numbers for the entire catchment areas. She adds that if those restrictions were not there, then perhaps the region would have had higher case numbers.
Young Hoon said while it has reduced it, cases due to interactions between households is still what is leading to the spread of the virus. She adds that this will be important in the province’s decision about what will be applied come Feb. 16.
“They’ll be looking at our per cent positivity rates, health unit capacity and the health sector capacity to determine what level the NWHU will equate to,” Young Hoon said.
Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times