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The COVID REPORT – APH town hall, exposure on a bus, vaccine access accelerates and PHSD deployment

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Virtual covid town hall this evening in Elliot Lake

The City of Elliot Lake and its partners will be holding a virtual town hall meeting this evening.

City Economic Development Manager Steve Antunes says the virtual meeting will take place at 6 tonight to address the current state of the COVID-19 situation in Elliot Lake and Algoma.

He says it will be hosted by Mayor Dan Marchisella and attended by members of Algoma Public Health, and Dr. Catherine Groh.

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Antunes adds people can submit their questions via email by noon today, which will be addressed during the virtual meeting.

To view the town hall, tune into Eastlink Channel 10 or visit www.Elliotlake.ca and click on council webcast. Any questions can be submitted to info@elliotlake.ca by noon today.

PHSD reports high exposure on a bus

Public Health Sudbury & Districts is warning of potential exposure on an Ontario Northland bus.

The agency is advising the public of potential high-risk exposure to the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant, specifically for anyone who was a passenger on a Ontario Northland bus (trip number 1506) from Ottawa to Sudbury on December 8 from 10:25 am. to 5:30 pm.

Due to the findings of Public Health’s investigation and the high risk of transmission, anyone who was present on the bus must self-isolate immediately regardless of immunization status or whether you have symptoms and seek testing if symptoms develop. Self-isolation means you must stay home and isolate away from others in your home.

WEB: COVID19 testing appointments can be arranged through the Health Sciences North Assessment Centre: the preferred option is to request an appointment online (Health Sciences North, https://secure.hsnsudbury.ca/COVID19AppointmentRequest) or call 705.671.7373 during regular business hours.

Coronavirus vaccines

More Ontarians are eligible to book their COVID-19 booster shots as of today.

The province is opening bookings to anyone 18 and older two weeks earlier than planned to try to stem the spread of the Omicron variant, which now makes up at least 80 per cent of the new cases being diagnosed.

The interval between second and third shots is also being lowered to three months from six.

There were almost 42-hundred new COVID-19 diagnoses reported across the province yesterday, a 26 per cent jump in one day.

Closer to home, for Manitoulin and the Sudbury Districts, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is taking further steps to prepare for the Omicron variant, which has an alarming ability to spread very quickly and is expected to bring about the most challenging wave yet of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health, is introducing additional measures, including:

  • Redeploying Public Health resources to focus on vaccination (especially for booster doses and for children 5 to 11) and urgently calling out to other partners for assistance;
  • Updating the Instructions to require concert venues, theatres and cinemas to ensure patrons be seated at all times, effective 12:01 a.m. December 18, 2021 (with further amendments potentially forthcoming following a review of today’s provincial announcements);
  • Updating the existing Class Order dated October 28 to incorporate changes in management of cases and contacts of COVID-19, effective immediately.

“While we continue to learn more about the Omicron variant, what we know currently is cause for great concern. Recent modelling from the Science Advisory Table shows Omicron could push COVID-19 cases to new heights in a matter of days—and we are already stretched dealing with the recent surge of Delta in our area. Our community continues to deal with the tragic toll of COVID-19. We have seen 47 people lose their lives due to COVID-19 in our area—recently people in their 30s, 50s, and 60s have lost their lives,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “The additional protections we have put in place since early November have helped control rapid growth. This is good news, however, it is obvious from experience in Kingston and elsewhere, that additional measures are needed with Omicron to reduce the impacts on people and the health care system as much as possible. Please continue to take care of yourselves and others, as we may be in for a difficult next few weeks,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.

Public Health Sudbury & Districts is also pleased to learn of new measures being introduced by the Government of Ontario that algin with Instructions currently in place locally, and the existing Letter of Instruction will be amended accordingly. To date, Public Health Sudbury & Districts has no confirmed cases of Omicron in its catchment area. However, residents should be aware that there are multiple cases of COVID-19 under investigation for Omicron as they have screened positive for the variant. The extraordinarily high rate of transmission for Omicron and early evidence that it can produce severe disease, has promoted the Science Advisory Table to warn that without prompt intervention, ICU occupancy could reach unsustainable levels in early January. With the Omicron variant, the focus for Public Health is on reducing severe illness and hospitalizations and maintaining essential services.

Vaccination across Greater Sudbury and in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts

With the threat of the Omicron variant, it is highly recommended to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious disease from COVID-19. Public Health has redeployed all remaining staff resources to quickly ramp up local capacity and vaccination appointments. As more individuals become eligible for booster doses, including those 18 and older starting December 20, 2021, every effort is being made to offer booster doses locally, including offering more walk-in opportunities, extending clinic hours, and requesting more doses from the province. Despite our best efforts, we will not be able to vaccinate everyone eligible in a matter of weeks. We remain focused protecting those who are most at risk, such individuals with underlying health conditions, health care workers and their families, individuals who live or work in congregate settings, and those over the age of 50 and ask for your continued patience.

Case and contact management for positive cases of COVID-19

Public Sudbury & Districts is advising that in the coming days and as per evolving provincial direction, a shift will occur to transition quickly to a high-surge model for case management and contact tracing. This is the result of the expected surge in cases that will outstrip capacity. It is also to maximize the public health workforce focus on vaccination with the aim of reducing severe illness and maintaining essential services as much as possible.
The high-surge model for the case and contact management shifts the priority to protect the vulnerable in high-risk settings including schools, retirement homes, long-term care homes, other congregate living settings (for example, shelters), and acute health care settings (cases who are hospitalized).
“The pandemic has been long—and we are clearly not through it yet and the predictions are for difficult times ahead. I am calling on everyone to remember the messages of kindness and solidarity from earlier on. Help each other out. Reset your norms to reduce spread,” urged Dr. Sutcliffe, adding, “Thank you, stay safe, and look after each other.”
For more information about COVID-19 and vaccination, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19. Keep connected with our Facebook and Twitter pages or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

 

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