MOH: As COVID numbers rise, masking and preventatives remain important
Dr. Piotr Oglaza began today’s biweekly COVID-19 media conference by reminding the community that the virus is still present in our region, and that rising numbers show that the next wave of COVID may have already begun. He remained optimistic, however, that if the public continues to take precautions, like vaccination and masking seriously, this too shall pass.
The Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health further said that it is too soon to say for certain the scale and severity of this next wave, noting, “What we do know is that the dominant variant is still Omicron; the same variant as we experienced in late 2021.”
He also reiterated that, “proven protective practices that were in the past helping us slow this spread and lower the risk to us and others around us are still relevant. So, getting vaccinated with all doses that you’re eligible for is the key protector.”
“But now, we also have other ways we can protect ourselves, and that includes a very important one: stay at home when sick and, for those who are eligible to, obtain antiviral treatments,” Dr. Oglaza continued.
People who are concerned about new and or worsening COVID-19 symptoms can book a clinical assessment at the COVID-19 Assessment Center at the Beechgrove Complex, either online or by phone. There, assessment will happen, “in consideration for the use of antivirals,” he explained, reminding residents to visit the province of Ontario website for more information about COVID-19 antiviral treatment and eligibility.
COVID-19 activity in the region appears to be rising, the MOH confirmed. “Our KFLA percent positivity from testing conducted within the region remains high, and so does our wastewater concentration.”
Oglaza pointed out, “we continue to monitor the relationship between transmission indicators and the severity indicators as expressed by our hospitalization rate and, as of today, there’s been three discharges and one new admission – that lowers our hospitalization number to 13.”
“Since January, hospitalizations have been decreasing. However, recently we have seen a small upswing over the course of last week, and that’s something that we monitor very closely.”
“What’s promising,” he continued, “is that our evidence from looking at these individuals in the course of hospital stay indicates that individuals who do get admitted to hospital tend to have shorter hospital stay, and we’re now seeing hospital stays in two or three days, which, again, illustrates the lower severity of the omicron variant.”
An optimistic-yet-measured outlook
“I remain optimistic about the future, though I am mindful of all of the facts and our best way moving forward,” the MOH expressed, noting that vaccination still remains, “our best line of defence.”
Protective measures we can continue to use are staying home when sick, which protects others from getting infected, as well as, “masking indoors, especially when physically distancing… might be challenging in more crowded areas.”
Oglaza was quick to add that these measures are not mandated, “but they still remain a powerful tool in what we can use as a community to protect each other from COVID-19… lifting of masking requirements does not mean that this is a tool we should no longer use… It is certainly still an element of protection.”
Like handwashing and staying home when sick, “practicing these measures will continue to help us be in a better position and emerge from this next wave in a much, much better shape,” he concluded. “Measures may no longer be mandated, [but they] are still a tool that we can use as part of multi-layer approach to how we get protection against COVID.”
For the latest COVID-19 data in KFL&A, visit the Kingstonist COVID-19 Quick Reference Guide.
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What do they mean by ‘wastewater concentration’?
That refers to the concentration of COVID-19 detected in wastewater throughout KFL&A. You can find out about this process and why it is done at the KFL&A Public Health website here: COVID-19 in KFL&A Wastewater