The Medical Officer of Health for our region (HKPR DHU) Dr. Natalie Bocking, today provided a comprehensive update on what’s happening locally with the pandemic – and there is a lot happening. It looks like we got our first case of the Omicron variant although that still needs to be confirmed – this variant is expected to be dominant before too long. The bad news is that cases are increasing with the cases per 100,000 population at around 36 compared to around 5 a few weeks ago. The good news is that we are not nearly as bad as other regions – for example Kingston is around 300 per 100,000 population. A lot of the cases are younger people with several outbreaks in schools and groups like hockey teams but so far not too much in Northumberland.
Here are more highlights of Dr. Bocking’s report:
- Two doses of vaccine are not as effective against Omicron as they are against the Delta and earlier variants – therefore, booster shots are recommended.
- The main group currently eligible for a booster shot is anyone over 40 although they must wait at least 168 days after their second dose of vaccine to receive their booster. Starting next Monday, this will be extended to anyone over 18 (with the same 168 days interval). [Stop Press: Now 84 days]. The Provincial booking system now has appointments loaded for December through January at the CCC. Go here.
- Walk-ins are no longer accepted at clinics for second or booster shots.
- Availability of vaccines is not a limiting factor in getting people vaccinated – but availability of enough staff could be. To help with this, the District Health Unit (DHU) is redeploying staff to help at clinics so that these booster shots can be given to all who are eligible.
- If / when you go for a shot at a clinic (e.g. the CCC), you will now be required to wear a “medical” mask, not just the normal cloth one – if you don’t have a medical mask, one will be provided.
- Some Rapid Antigen Test kits have been provided directly by the Province to schools and Long Term Care homes. These are not being supplied by the DHU although they can be bought at some pharmacies or online (or even Home Hardware – if they still have stock). Note that anyone who gets a positive result must self-isolate and book a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at a testing site to confirm the result. Northumberland Hills Hospital operates a testing site – to make an appointment call 905 377 7783 between 8:00 and 4:00 – 7 days.
- Dr. Bocking asked that people not have large holiday gatherings and encouraged people to work from home wherever possible.
- Some regions have made changes such as capacity limits and limits on gathering sizes but Dr. Bocking prefers that this kind of thing should apply across the Province so should be an edict by the Province. She expects some tightening of rules in the next few days.
- When asked, she said that it’s too early to know if annual booster doses will become “normal” although she thought it would be quite possible.
For the latest updates, go to the Cobourg News Blog Covid-19 page. Dr. Bocking did provide all the numbers but they are also at that page so not repeated here.
Things are changing fast.
Starting Dec. 18, Ontario will reintroduce capacity limits of 50 per cent for indoor entertainment venues, meeting and event spaces, and sports venues with an indoor capacity of greater than 1,000 people. This will not affect local cinemas like the Loft or Rainbow.
COVID-19 rapid tests will also be available to residents free of charge at pop-up testing sites located at high-traffic public areas, as well as at LCBO retail locations, effective immediately.
Another announcement from the Province added restrictions on capacity in stores and restaurants – for full details go to Cobourg News Blog Covid-19 page. Any future news on restrictions etc will be on that page and not here.
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR DHU) – web site
- Watch Dr. Bocking’s full report on You Tube.
- Cobourg News Blog Covid-19 page – a focus on Cobourg and Northumberland – includes a Northumberland “trend” graph.