Residents asked to avoid travel

Merna Emara

As the region sees its sixth positive case in the past two weeks, the Northwestern Health Unit is encouraging people to avoid non-essential travel outside northwestern Ontario.

Yesterday, the NWHU announced a new positive case in the Kenora region. That adds to two active cases in Dryden/Red lake, two in Sioux Lookout and one in the Rainy River District.

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said her staff is closely monitoring COVID-19 numbers in Manitoba and the rest of the province of Ontario.

“It is up to individuals to do a risk assessment, but there are elevated numbers in Manitoba and southern Ontario,” Young-Hoon said.

“If someone chooses to travel for essential reasons, then they should follow good public health measures. We also encourage people to avoid public transit, avoid situations where it is difficult to physically distance and avoid situations where there might be loud singing or shouting.”

Upon returning from travel, individuals should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their return to northwestern Ontario. If they have been exposed to a case or an outbreak situation, Young-Hoon said they should self-isolate for 14 days.

A spike in reported positives across Ontario has changed the rules around seeking a COVID-19 testing from assessment centres around the province, she added.

“Effective last Thursday, Ontarians should only get tested at assessment centres if they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 positive case. All northwestern health clinics will be by appointment only to ensure public safety.”

The NWHU is encouraging residents to get a flu shot this year. Flu shots will be available through pharmacies and healthcare providers in mid October. Young-Hoon said flu shots are important this year she encourages everyone to get the vaccination if they are able to.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has officially announced on Monday that Ontario entered its second wave of COVID-19 transmission. This comes after the current reported numbers surpassed the ones in April.

“The reality is it’s up to each of us, together our collective actions will decide if we face a wave or a tsunami,” Ford said. “We know that we are in the second wave and we know that it will be worse than the first wave. But what we don’t know yet is how bad the second wave will be.”