The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) reports three new symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the past week – two in Sioux Lookout and one in the Dryden Red Lake area.
Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said these cases include cases on First Nation communities, as well as cases in schools. One of the three cases is travel-related.
Therefore, some Indigenous agencies, such as Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, have been mandated to do case and contact follow-up for some of their communities.
School-related cases are also required to post the case in the school.
Young-Hoon said since the common flu season is approaching, it is impossible to assess a patient for COVID-19 without a test.
She said symptoms such as coughs, runny nose, sore throat and fever cannot determine if an illness is COVID-19 or another respiratory illness through examination alone.
“I think it is a reasonable thing to see that with the upcoming flu season and the winter season when your respiratory illnesses tend to get worse, this will have an increased demand on assessment centers in the healthcare sector,” Young-Hoon said.
Young-Hoon said since both the province of Ontario and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority have seen an increase in the number of reported COVID-19 positives, residents should be aware of the risks of travelling domestically.
“They need to think about why they’re travelling and the risks and benefits of travelling and perhaps consider not travelling, if they feel that the rest of the risk outweighs the benefits,” Young-Hoon said.
“We are also encouraging people to avoid public transit or situations where it’d be difficult to physically distance and also situations where there may be a lot of shouting or singing which can increase the risk of transmission.”
Young-Hoon added that individuals returning from travellling should self monitor for 14 days after travel for symptoms of COVID-19.
That being said, Young-Hoon stressed that schools, parents and guardians also have an important role to play in keeping schools healthy.
“Every student must be screened daily before leaving for school using the online COVID-19 school screening tool,” Young-Hoon said.
“If a child has any symptoms of illness, the tool will tell you that the child cannot attend school and provide instructions on what to do. When a child has symptoms of a common cold or flu, COVID-19 testing is recommended. It is not useful to see a doctor or nurse practitioner unless medically necessary.”
Last week, Premier Doug Ford decreased the number of individuals allowed to gather indoors to 10, and 25 outdoors. This announcement came after Ontario saw a spike in the reported of positive COVID-19 cases. Thus far, Ontario has 425 new cases and Manitoba has 22. Total active cases in Ontario are 3,299 and Manitoba has 363 active cases.