The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) announced 26 active COIVD-19 cases in the past week – three in the Dryden/Red Lake region, 20 in the Kenora region, two in the Sioux Lookout region and one in the district of Rainy River. Riverside Healthcare has confirmed that the local case is a staff member of LaVerendrye Hospital, and have put in safety measures above and beyond government requirements, to minimize the possibility of spread.
This is the first active case in the Rainy River district since October 14.
Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU said that they have done a contact follow up of the case but they are unsure how the individual became infected.
“Sometimes based on the movement of the individual you may have some sense of it but you can never definitively know for sure,” Young Hoon said.
The number of cases in Kenora has been increasing at an alarming rate since the beginning of November. Young Hoon said the causes of the cases vary, but that they are generally transmitted through the community.
Young Hoon adds that the NWHU have noted that a couple of incidents in the Kenora region have been linked to individuals leaving isolation and coming in contact with others because their symptoms had lessened while waiting for their test results.
“We’re encouraging everyone that even if you feel better, that you need to continue self-isolating until you get your negative results,” Young Hoon said.
In respect for what to do in public spaces, Young Hood said it is about being more vigilant with physical distancing and staying two metres away from people who are not within your household. As well, following good hand hygiene, wearing a face mask where mandated and when physical distancing may be difficult.
The NWHU also asks that businesses take the same precautions and provide masks, contact tracing, markers so people can properly physically distance and reducing the number of people within a space.
Over the course of the pandemic there have been over 40,000 tests done in northwestern Ontario.
Young Hoon stresses that if you are sick or are developing symptoms of COVID-19, which include cough, fever, shortness of breath, headaches and runny nose, you need to self-isolate. She adds that the same applies if you develop symptoms that suggest a common cold.
“A huge part of the spread of any illness is when you’re symptomatic,” Young Hoon said. “So if you’re feeling unwell, you’re more likely to spread droplets to other people and make them sick.”
The NWHU continues to recommend that people avoid non-essential travel outside of northwestern Ontario and that if they have been to Manitoba, particularly for non-essential reasons, they should stay home and avoid coming within two metres of anyone in their household for 14 days.
Residents of Manitoba border communities that use Kenora as their main service hub and do not travel west of Falcon Lake are exempt from the travel recommendations.
Since March there have been 109 positive COVID-19 cases in the northwestern region.