Positive cases at St. Mary School

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Several positive COVID-19 case at St, Mary School in Fort Frances has forced the closure of several classes. Contact tracing is taking place to determine if an outbreak has occurred.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), said individuals in the same class are expected to get tested, stay home and to self isolate for a period of time.

Young Hoon said although there is no evidence of the Omicron variant in the reported cases in the NWHU’s catchment area, it is a matter of time that the new variant will be in our region.

“This is a variant that is extremely transmissible compared to any other variants that we have experienced before,” Young Hoon said. “And it would be difficult to prevent that transmission.”

Therefore, Young Hoon said the best way of protecting yourself and those who are at a higher risk of hospitalization and getting severely ill is to get vaccinated.

Children aged five to 11 continue to get their first dose of the vaccination. Young Hoon said about 25 per cent of children aged five to 11 received their first dose.

“We expect this rate to rise quickly as we have many appointments booked for children over the next few weeks,” Young Hoon said. “Our third dose rate for those aged 12 and older is sitting at 15.7 per cent.”

On Monday, the third dose eligibility criteria opened up so that individuals aged 50 years old or more could book to get their booster shot, as long as their second shot was at least 24 weeks ago.

“As of January 4, those aged 18 and older will become eligible,” Young Hoon added.

Young Hoon said they have over 1,000 appointments booked.

Young Hoon also said that as the holiday season approaches and Omicron begins to spread rapidly, she asks the public to make decisions based on risk.

“If anyone is considering traveling over the holidays, I ask that they rethink their plan,” Young Hoon said. “I recommend against traveling outside of Northwestern Ontario at this time, the risk of getting and spreading the Omicron variant is higher.”

Young Hoon added that anyone who travels outside the region should consider limiting non-essential activities with others for 10 days after returning home.

There are currently 25 active cases.

On Tuesday, the NWHU reported 11 new cases, two in the Dryden/Red Lake region, four in the Kenora region and five in the Rainy River District.