COVID-19 update short and sweet as KFL&A heads for looser restrictions

An overall decrease in severe COVID-19 illness in the province is extremely encouraging, but with emergency measures being lifted Monday, it is important to remember that COVID-19 is still present, and that there is still a risk of transmission in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (KFL&A) region, according to Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza.

Dr.Piotr Oglaza addresses the press online, Friday, Mar. 18, 2022. Screen captured image.

Oglaza spoke to local media online Friday, Mar. 18, 2022, in a biweekly update to the public about the state of the pandemic as we move closer to living with endemic COVID as part of the yearly respiratory illness rotation.

Oglaza pointed out that, while indicators such as the wastewater signal and percent positivity demonstrate the level of transmission has been gradually rising over the past two months or so, the indicators that show the severity of illness on a population level, such as hospitalization rates, continue to remain low. 

“As you might recall, during earlier stages of the pandemic when we were seeing high COVID-19 transmission, approximately three weeks later the hospitalization rate would increase,” he reminded, “[However,] looking back to three weeks ago, they’re at an elevated level …and we would therefore expect that the indicators of severity would be also increasing. Fortunately, this is not the case.”

Dr. Oglaza explained that “we (KFL&A) currently have five people in hospital due to COVID-19, and we have not seen levels this low since November 2021. It is truly significant how the severity of COVID-19 cases has declined to the point where our transmission trends and our severity indicators are going in the opposite directions – so, those who are admitted to into hospital are frequently there for a shorter stay, and this is very likely to be because of the high rates of vaccination in the community, as well as lower severity of Omicron. So, this is overall very reassuring news for our region.”

“We’re confident that our community is ready now to move towards living with COVID-19 by lifting the emergency restrictions that were put in place,” he continued.

Oglaza praised the Public Health measures which have had a significant impact on reducing the spread and severe illness related to COVID-19, noting that, “the most significant measures [are] getting vaccinated [and] getting a booster dose,” as well as monitoring symptoms, staying home when sick, and also wearing a mask to help protect those at a higher risk of severe outcomes — which also reduces one’s own exposures.

“And,” he said, “I anticipate and I acknowledge fully that it will take time for us all, as a community, to get used to this new environment that the new legislative framework puts in place.”

Oglaza cautioned patience and tolerance, “as we transition.”

“Deciding which activities to participate in will involve individuals assessing their own level of risk, their own comfort level, all while being mindful of others around them… it is important that we respect each other during this period. Please be mindful that there are members in our community who remain at higher risk for serious outcomes, and some people may choose to keep wearing masks in places where they’re not required. As well, businesses may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination or masking,” he concluded. “So please, be kind and respectful of the choices of others.”

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