Residents recommended to stay home during the holidays if unwell

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Many are reflecting on the year that has passed, including Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the North Western Health Unit (NWHU), who shared a word of thanks to staff, partners, and the public for their continued efforts, and reminded everyone to protect their loved ones during the holidays by staying home if feeling unwell.

“When reflecting on 2022, I’m filled with pride,” said Young Hoon in a year-end media briefing on December 19.

She highlighted a year of significant change and thanked staff for their dedication and commitment to the health of the public. Earlier this year public health measures were still in place and booster shots were just starting. Young Hoon noted that while things aren’t back to normal yet, “we are much further ahead than we were a year ago.”

Young Hoon also thanked the health care partners for their work throughout the year, from helping with vaccines, partnering in case-in-contact management, to quickly adapting to changes. “Their partnerships and their work is incredibly valued,” she said.

To the public, Young Hoon acknowledged that the last few years haven’t been easy and expressed praise for the ways in which residents have continuously taken care of themselves and others.

“The last years haven’t been easy,” she said. “And I’m honored to live in a region where residents genuinely care about each other and do the right thing not only for themselves, but for their neighbors. There have been a lot of changes throughout the past few years. And the public has taken tremendous efforts to ensure they’re doing all they can to protect themselves and others.”

As families and friends gather during the holidays, especially indoors, Young Hoon advised that residents continue to protect themselves and loved ones by getting booster shots, practicing health measures such as masking in indoor public spaces, and staying home when ill.

“Even if that means missing out on a gathering,” Young Hoon said.

When many generations are present at holiday gatherings, from grandparents to young kids, the risk of facing serious outcomes from a respiratory illness like influenza, RSV, or COVID-19 is significantly higher.

Young Hoon said that they are continuing to see moderate to high rates of viral respiratory illnesses throughout the region, and although there have been improvements in the levels seen in November, respiratory illnesses continue to have a notable impact on emergency room departments, hospitalizations, and pediatric ICUs.

“There is still a circulating virus. I think one of the good news is that it’s improving. The bad news is that it’s still there. And it’s not low enough for us to describe it as low. It’s still moderate levels to high levels depending on the part of the region.”

“Vaccination helps to prevent serious illness. So if you have not yet received a COVID 90 booster dose this fall or your influenza shots, I urge you to do so to protect yourself, your loved ones and our local healthcare settings,” she said.

The large-scale clinics offering vaccinations have wrapped up, but residents can continue to book appointments through the NWHU website, through their health care provider, or by visiting a participating pharmacy.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 can access resources from the local assessment center at the hospital or through pharmacists who may be able to prescribe treatments to those who are eligible, such as those over 60 or with weakened immune systems. To determine eligibility, residents can visit the online treatment screener on Ontario’s websites at