KFL&A region encouraged to get vaccinated, reduce close contacts to slow Omicron variant

KFL&A Public Health on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston.

With record COVID-19 case numbers and “worrisome daily case counts that are likely to continue for weeks,” KFL&A Public Health is strongly encouraging residents to get vaccinated and reduce close contacts.

The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has quickly become the most common variant in the KFL&A region, according to a release from Public Health on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. It is more easily spread with close contact than the Delta variant, according to local doctors.

As of yesterday, Monday, Dec. 21, 2021, over 1,500 active cases of COVID-19 were reported in the KFL&A region by Public Health. The area is at a current infection rate of nearly 500 cases per 100,00 people over the last seven days, according to the local Public Health data. A more up-to-the-minute source, the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group showing the KFL&A region at over 900 cases per 100,00 over the past two weeks as of 1:45 p.m. today, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 (934 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days; 564 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days).

Hospitalization rates have also increased in proportion to the number of cases reported in the area. Public Health data shows that 24 local individuals are currently in hospital due to the COVID-19 virus, with 13 cases in the ICU, and 10 on ventilators.

Public Health said that COVID-19 vaccinations will help to protect limited health care resources—two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine provide some protection against symptoms and good protection against serious disease. A third dose of the vaccine boosts the immune response to the virus further reducing the risk of symptoms, severe disease, and hospitalization, according to the release.

“Thousands of individuals have not yet been vaccinated or exposed to COVID-19 in previous waves. For them, this is still a novel virus, and they will inevitably be exposed to Omicron given how quickly it spreads and how transmissible it is,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health at KFL&A Public Health. “The most important measures to keep our community safe are to get vaccinated and to reduce close contact with those outside of your household.”  

Public Health stated that they anticipate that Omicron and COVID-19 will persist in the community throughout the regular respiratory season, so these enhanced, short-term public health measures are meant to slow the virus and lessen the serious consequences of the disease, especially among vulnerable populations. These public health measures will not make the virus go away during the rest of the respiratory season (i.e., October to April), according to the release.

KFL&A residents are strongly encouraged to adhere to the enhanced local and provincial public health measures, Public Health said, noting that everyone must continue to practice behaviours to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as:

  • Stay home and get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms.
  • Get vaccinated by booking an appointment through KFL&A Public Health’s online vaccine clinic tool. When eligible, get a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine in any approved combination.
  • Gather virtually, if possible.
  • Reduce close contacts and limit social gatherings to 10 or less people. The less people who gather, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Mask and physical distance if gathering indoors with people from other households and when it feels right for you, especially if you or others are immunocompromised or at high-risk of severe disease or exposure to COVID-19.

It is important to remember that knowing someone doesn’t reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, Public Health said.

“We have come a long way in this fight. We want to thank everyone for following public health measures to protect yourself, each other, and your community,” the health agency said. “We are in this together, let’s continue to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep KFL&A strong and safe.”

For the most up to date information visit Kflaph.ca/Coronavirus or COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario.

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