In recent remarks to the local Board of Health, the district's medical officer of health advised the immunization of more of the population against COVID-19 — especially individuals living in high-risk settings, the elderly, and the unvaccinated — can help prevent further deaths.
"Certainly, we know vaccinations continue to be highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths," said Dr. Jim Chirico in addressing the board. "Reductions associated with two doses in infections is about 56 per cent, hospitalizations is 83 per cent, and ICU admissions, 91 per cent."
The number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has reached 13 and Chirico noted "there is some prediction that, potentially, there could be more deaths."
See related: Health Unit reports another COVID victim locally
Five deaths have been reported district-wide this month alone. Of the 13 deaths, 10 came from the North Bay district and three from Parry Sound, however, the recent increase in deaths locally can be partly attributed to a lag in reporting, Chirico cautioned.
Chirico explained case and contact management had to be re-evaluated due to a lack of resources and the widespread community transmission of the Omicron variant. The prioritization of testing became necessary, as the focus shifted from containment of the virus to mitigation, he said.
"It would be like trying to do case and contact management during a normal flu season where you have so many cases that, really, it is impossible to do," he told the board.
Most importantly, Chirico observed, "While there have been pressures on the health care system, we have not been overrun."
He commended community members for observing the guidance from public health on their own.
"People know what they have to do when they do get the flu. Similarly, now, individuals have a responsibility to initiate public health measures to prevent further transmission in the community," Chirico continued. "That includes timely self-isolation, staying home from work when you're ill, continuing physical distancing, and masking."
He added, "Immunizations plus the public health measures give us the best protection possible."