NWHU preparing for phase 2 of the provincial reopening

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) region, along with the rest of the province will be entering phase 2 of the province’s reopening model today.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at NWHU, said their teams will be sending communications out to local businesses and workplaces to ensure that they are aware of the regulations they must follow.

Some of phase 2 includes an increase in outdoor capacity limits to a maximum of 25 people and a maximum of five people for indoor gatherings.

Young Hoon said this is good news and shows that high vaccination coverage rates, and stronger restrictions when case numbers were high have resulted in lower numbers not just in the region but provincially.

“I think the general public needs to be aware, however, that there are areas across the province where there is still an increasing spread of COVID-19, where there are high rates, and where there is the Delta variant,” Young Hoon said.

Young Hoon adds that the Delta variant is known to be more transmissible than other variants of the virus.

Young Hoon said it is important for people to be mindful of the risk and to get vaccinated because that is a key in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and not having to bring in public health restrictions if case numbers should increase.

Although case numbers are staying low and vaccination rates are very high, Young Hoon said following the 21-day protocol between phases could stop problems from occurring.

There are currently eight active cases in the region, two in the Kenora region and six in the Rainy River region.

One of the cases in the Kenora region is currently outside of the NWHU catchment area.

As of yesterday, 91, 824 doses of the vaccine have been administered to residents of the NWHU catchment area.

On Monday, the province opened up second vaccine eligibility for adults to book an accelerated vaccine appointment. Young Hoon said anyone who had a second dose booked through the provincial booking system when they booked their first dose should ignore that appointment and rebook their second dose.

This can be done by following the link from the NWHU booking web page or by calling their hotline. Those who received Pfizer as their first dose, can have their second dose 21 days later. Those who had Moderna can get their second dose 28 days later. If AstraZeneca was given for the first dose, individuals must wait at least eight weeks for a second dose.

“I urge anyone who is eligible for their second dose or who has not yet had a first dose to book an appointment or attend one of our walk-in clinics,” Young Hoon said. “Walk-in schedules continue to be posted to our website daily.”

On Canada Day, many are looking to gather with friends or family but Young Hoon said to still be mindful of restrictions even if you are fully vaccinated.

“People should still be mindful of risk, be mindful of the setting that you’re in, who you’re interacting with and what’s the likelihood of having COVID-19. A big key part of that is whether individuals are vaccinated or not,” Young Hoon said. “We are still encouraging people to make an effort to physically distance and mask to reduce the risk for everyone.  are sick and you develop any symptoms, which could be COVID-19, it is important to self-isolate and get tested.”