By Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) will remain in the yellow-protect zone of the provinces COVID-19 Response Framework despite new cases continuing to crop up in the Kenora region.
The NWHU reported 19 new COVID-19 cases in Kenora region on Friday, seven on Saturday and 24 on Sunday, with an additional seven probable cases.
“This week we re-enter the provinces COVID-19 Response Framework in the yellow-protect zone,” Young Hoon said. “I highly encourage everyone to remain two metres from anyone they not live with. COVID-19 is most likely spread through close contact with others.”
A release issued by the NWHU on Friday states that when new cases are identified, they are told to self-isolate and all of that individual’s high risk close contacts are asked to get tested as well as self-isolate. Those who have been told to self-isolate are monitored to support any health needs that they may have to ensure compliance.
“There is a coordinated response that involves many agencies, each of which has an important role,” Young Hoon said. “Case numbers are high and at this time, there is no evidence of spread to the municipality of Kenora.”
Young Hoon adds that the NWHU has been supporting community partners in the Kenora region that are responsible to set up and operate COVID-19 isolation centres specifically with respect to infection prevention and control. This has been on going throughout the pandemic.
“The goal is to ensure that the person can have the appropriate space and access to food and care that they need so that they do not expose others,” Young Hoon said. “Therefore, the risk to the general public from an isolation centre would be extremely low, if not zero.”
With cases on the rise in Kenora region, Young Hoon said they have heard disturbing stories of people being treated badly because it is assumed that they have COVID-19. Young Hoon said she reminds the public that this situation is not unique to the area and that it could happen anywhere which is why it is important to be kind.
“Please do not assume that someone you see in a public space has COVID-19,” Young Hoon said. “Self-isolation centres are working well and people are isolating so it’s important to remember that the ability to self-isolate can be impacted by someone’s access to resources and we must all continue to provide support and care to those who need it the most.”
Young Hoon said they are looking into spaces for mass immunization clinics. In Kenora there are talks of it taking place at the arena, Young Hoon said.
“That is a good space, it’s relatively large, it has adequate parking, it will have access to internet and other facilities that are required such as washrooms so it’s a useful space and likely will be a location for our immunizations clinics when it is necessary,” Young Hoon said.
Young Hoon said more vaccines are coming into the region but they are still relatively small amounts. She adds that mass immunization clinics most likely will not happen until April or the end of March at the earliest.
“At that point there may potentially be large amounts of vaccine,” Young Hoon said. “The province has indicated, however, that these numbers can’t be confirmed until they actually receive some type of confirmation on their end, so it’s really hard to speak to numbers of vaccine until you actually are given a clear amount from a higher level.”
Concerning the implementation of Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Young Hoon said she is not aware of any fines being issued or any further enforcements being done at this time. She adds that sometimes just having the public aware of the possibility of these enforcements leads to increased compliance which is what the NWHU expected, Young Hoon said.