The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situations in Sudbury and Algoma and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico is not ruling out taking steps to avoid a similar surge of cases here.
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"I think it's an opportunity for everyone in our district to get vaccinated," observes Chirico. "Reduce the risk so we can reduce the spread in our community. Nobody wants to put in more restrictions but it's going to be dependent on community spread and increasing cases — and whether or not people end up in the hospital."
One day after recommending local school boards halt sporting events and field trips involving travel to the Sudbury or Algoma districts — and the exclusion of students from those areas in local tournaments — the Health Unit reaffirmed its position during its weekly press conference.
Shannon Mantha, Executive Director of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer with Health Unit says the cooperative working relationship with the district school boards will continue when it comes to heeding the recommendation about travel and competition with students from Sudbury and Algoma.
"The school boards are in agreement with our recommendation and have communicated the recommendation to other parties, including school boards and NOSSA and OFSAA," Mantha advises.
Chirico adds the Health Unit recognizes the work of the school boards throughout the pandemic and the difficult decisions the boards have made to keep their communities healthy and safe.
The same line of thinking applies to the general public. "Is it really worth it, especially with the large increase cases," to travel to nearby districts, asks Chirico? "If we can keep our numbers down — and everyone should be commended for keeping our numbers down — if they start to increase we might have to look at measures to be put in place."
Chirico did not elaborate on possible restrictions in this district but in recent weeks, Greater Sudbury's own medical officer of health has rolled that district back a step in the Reopening Ontario framework. Business capacity limits have been reduced in Algoma, as well.
Chirico used an analogy about COVID-19 risk and winter driving to drive his point home.
"In winter weather driving, even though you have a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour, you adjust to the weather conditions and move safely — and even decide not to go out and drive," he observes. "Similarly, with this, we need to look at what risk there is for going to large gatherings. Is it really worth the risk with the increasing number of cases? Everybody has to do a risk assessment."