Incidence rates decrease across health region

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) reports good news to the region as incidence rates are starting to show a decrease in most areas in the catchment area.

That being said, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, stressed that we’re not out of the woods yet. She said the per cent positivity is still higher than the rest of the province.

“To be clear, our overall rates are still very high compared to the rest of the province. However, our peak may now be ending in some areas,” Young Hoon said. “In addition, there are signs of decreasing hospitalization trends in recent weeks. We will keep monitoring the data over the next few weeks to see whether these preliminary trends continue.”

Young Hoon explained that the health unit monitors the percent positivity, the incidence rates, the number of cases per 100,000 population and the hospitalization numbers. She said trends are important indications of the spread because some people may either not be eligible for testing or may not come forward for testing.

“We’re seeing that the case numbers are declining slowly,” Young Hoon said. “And that decline has been seen for roughly three weeks. There’s a somewhat consistent trend of decreasing case numbers. However, per cent positivity is not seeing a decline over the past few weeks since it’s been sitting at about 25 per cent for some time now.”

She added that hospitalization numbers are also seeing a decrease after the peak seen in mid February. Young Hoon said treatment for COVID-19 is available for some high risk individuals, adding that eligibility is based on age, vaccination status and other medical conditions.

“If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, and believe you may be eligible for treatments, call your healthcare provider, the local assessment centre or Telehealth Ontario. It is important that this is done as soon as possible because treatments must be started within five to seven days,” she said.

Young Hoon there are people across the region who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from the COVID-19 infection for various reasons. By wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others and staying home when you are unwell you help to keep yourself and others healthy, she added.

The health unit is still offering the first, second and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and Young Hoon said vaccination protects the region’s most vulnerable population.

“One of the most important things for the general public to be aware of is the value that comes with getting your third dose of the vaccine or your booster dose of the vaccine,” she said. “It’s shown very clearly in the statistics that that third dose, or the booster dose of the vaccine, provides very good 90 per cent protection against severe illness.”