NWHU urges caution over Christmas holidays

Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) announced that there are no new cases but there are currently 17 active COVID-19 cases. There are 13 in the Kenora region, one in the Dryden/Red Lake region and three in the Sioux Lookout region. To date there have been 121 positive COVID-19 cases.

Between Nov 23-29, the positivity rate was 0.72 per cent which is equal to 15 new cases over that time period, most of which were in the Kenora area.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, reminds the public that it is important to follow guidelines as it will affect the Christmas and holiday season.

The NWHU is recommending against all non-essential travel, including travel outside of northwestern Ontario to see family for Christmas. The public should also avoid hosting visitors in their household, especially ones from outside of northwestern Ontario.

“Over the holidays we encourage people to get together with others outside and only get within two metres of those who live in your household,” Young Hoon said.

Young Hoon said that travel guidelines could be revised but at this time the province has indicated that travel between high risk areas to low risk areas should be avoided.

“I think people need to be cautious, particularly when making travel plans for the holiday season and for Christmas,” Young Hoon said. “It might be a very different situation at the time, at which point we might be recommending against non-essential travel from outside your communities.”

Young Hoon adds that it might be something that is coming and people need to be prepared for it.

It is also strongly recommended that workplaces do not have in person holiday gatherings or events, particularly if masks must be removed to eat or drink.

In regards to releasing rapid testing, Young Hoon said the province is going through an evaluation phase first to test the effectiveness and usefulness of it. She adds that most of the testing is occurring in southern Ontario but there is conversation about bringing it to different parts of northwestern Ontario.

“There’s a lot of usefulness for bringing it to northwestern Ontario, and right now it’s a lot of planning on how best to use our equipment and recognize there’s limited supply of the actual test kits that go along with it.”

News of a vaccine has caused a lot of excitement and Young Hoon said conversations with the Ministry of Health have been taking place as more information about the vaccine is released, on how to logistically distribute and administer it.

Young Hoon adds that the vaccine likely will not be available until late winter or the spring of next year.