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Monday, December 05, 2022

Sudbury’s health unit expects ‘bumpy’ transition as pandemic restrictions eased

Public Health Sudbury and Districts says most people will be expected to make decisions about their own circumstances

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Public Health Sudbury and Districts said in its weekly update on Thursday that it will continue to be there for area families and communities as Ontario continues to ease pandemic restrictions.

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“While the pandemic is not over, we are transitioning to another phase,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe.

“Instead of provincial requirements, most people will be expected to make decisions and choices that are best for their own circumstances. This transition will be bumpy as people’s circumstances are all different.”

Sutcliffe said she knows communities will tap into their reserves of “mutual respect, kindness, and patience” as we navigate the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our collective response to COVID-19 has required us to tap into personal resources we might not have imagined we had,” she said. “We have been innovative, compassionate resilient, and determined. Getting to this point has not been easy, but now more than ever, we know what we need to do to stay safe.”

Thursday, March 10, marked two years since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Public Health Sudbury and Districts’ service area.

“Since that time, we have learned much and have the tools we need to take charge and maximize our own protection and that of our loved ones,” said Sutcliffe.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced this week that the requirements for self-isolation following a potential exposure to COVID-19 have been loosened, effective immediately.

Provincial requirements for masking in many settings will also be removed on March 21.

“Being fully vaccinated and getting our COVID-19 boosters, as well as staying home when ill and deciding to mask in crowded indoor spaces remain strong protectors,” said Sutcliffe.

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Over the last seven days, public health reported 424 new cases of COVID-19 among high-risk settings in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts, as well as 531 resolved cases.

Of the new cases reported this week, 362 were in Greater Sudbury, 44 were in the Manitoulin district, 10 were in Sudbury north, 24 were in Sudbury west, and seven were in Sudbury east.

The health unit said it is likely that a large majority of the cases reported from March 3 to 9 were the Omicron variant.

However, limited testing means the number of new cases is likely an underestimate.

Public Health said there were 19 active COVID-19 outbreaks in its service area, including eight in congregate living settings, five in long-term care homes, five in hospitals, and one in a retirement home.

There were also two COVID-related deaths reported in the health unit’s service area.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a total of 12,025 known cases locally, of which 11,625 are resolved.

“Sadly, COVID has now caused or contributed to the deaths of 111 people in our service area. Of these, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death in 84 cases.”

Provincial data indicates that from Jan. 27 to Feb. 25, the risk of an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individual being admitted to hospital for COVID-19 was 2.5 times higher than someone with two doses.

Additionally, the province found the risk to be 3.1 times higher than someone with three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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“Their risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) was 2.8 times that of someone with 2 doses, and 5.1 times that of someone with 3 doses,” said the health unit.

Public health reported 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among patients admitted to Sudbury and district hospitals, including 27 admitted due to the virus.

Three patients were admitted to the ICU due to COVID-19.

To date, the health unit and its partners have administered 442,988 doses of COVID-19 vaccinations to residents in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.

“Thus far, 174,495 people have received their first dose of vaccine and 166,506 people have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” said the update.

“A total of 99,918 people have received a third dose including 55.0 per cent of residents aged 12 and over.”

Additionally, 2,069 people have received a fourth dose as of March 9. There were 934 vaccine doses administered in the health unit’s service area over the last seven days.

Overall, 85 per cent of the total population in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts have received a first dose, and 81.1 per cent of the total population is fully immunized.

“This means that there are over 38,000 residents who are not currently fully immunized,” said the update.

Public Health said that its service area could see an increase in COVID-19 transmission in the weeks ahead as provincial public health measures ease.

“To protect yourself and those around you, make sure to get your first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and get a booster dose if you are eligible,” said the update.

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“It is important to continue exercising caution as we carefully get back to more in-person activities indoors and in larger gatherings.”

The Ontario government updated the isolation requirements for COVID-19 on March 9. The health unit said isolation remains an important tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“As previously required, you must isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for the virus,” said the update.

“Isolation is not required if you live with someone who has COVID-19 or has symptoms and you yourself have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, or you are 18 years or older and have received a booster dose, or you are under 18 and you have been fully vaccinated.”

Individuals do not need to isolate if they have been exposed to someone from another household who has symptoms or is COVID-19 positive.

“If not isolating, you must still monitor for symptoms, wear a mask and not visit anyone at higher risk of illness or highest risk settings for 10 days since your exposure,” said the health unit.

Note that wearing a mask will still be required in some settings after the requirements are lifted on March 21.

These settings include public transit, long-term care homes, retirement homes, other health care settings, shelters, jails, and congregate living settings, including homes for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19/data for regular updates about COVID-19 testing, confirmed cases, as well as outbreaks and potential exposures in Greater Sudbury, the Sudbury District, and the Manitoulin District.

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

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Twitter: @SudburyStar

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