Weekly COVID-19 update shows signs of an early spring

Metaphorically speaking, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health did not see his shadow at his COVID-19 press update, perhaps a sign that a new, lower-risk season of the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching the region

A slow but steady decline of Omicron cases provides promise for the rest of the respiratory illness season, according to a local COVID-19 update press conference with Dr. Oglaza.

On Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, Ontario began easing COVID-19 Public Health restrictions, allowing many local businesses to reopen, subject to capacity limits for most establishments. Social gathering limits also increased from five to a maximum of 10 people indoors, and from 10 to a maximum of 25 outdoors.

Dr. Oglaza, MOH, addressed the KFL&A media online Wednesday, Feb 2, 2022. Screen captured image.

“Currently, our COVID-19 indicators are stable, and we’ve also noted that severity in local cases is decreasing, and some of the indicators, such as wastewater and high-risk case surveillance, suggest that transmission of disease activity is also decreasing,” Oglaza told the virtually-assembled press.

He noted, “At this point, it is too early to fully assess the potential impact of lifting some of these measures and how this lifting of restrictions may impact our community COVID-19 activity, but we will continue to keep the community informed of any changes in the disease activity.”

He went on to say, “On Monday, [KFL&A Public Health] also aligned our local measures that were implemented during the fourth wave with provincial measures now in place, and to support local needs. We continue to work collaboratively with community partners and stakeholders to address any protective measures when needed and apply a balanced approach moving forward to effectively manage risks.”

There is some concern that lessening restrictions could lead to another increase in cases according to provincial modelling scenarios, Oglaza said, but he assured that KFL&A Public Health would be closely monitoring wastewater for any indication of that change.

Asked what will help the public get to the next step of reopening, Oglaza said, “I think it’s an important message not just to get into the next step, which is of course on everyone’s mind, but [we need] to get through this as a community… if someone has not done so already, please do get vaccinated to protect yourself, but also to protect friends, family, [and] neighbours. Vaccination remains the first, most important step.”

It is also important to continue to screen for symptoms daily, he said. “If someone is symptomatic: stay home when sick, even with only mild symptoms. And with these key measures, we will reduce the risk of transmission for COVID for all other pathogens.”

“Maintaining hygiene remains important for any respiratory pathogen,” Oglaza reiterated, “whether it’s COVID, influenza, or any other respiratory viruses. These basics of infection prevention control remain applicable and effective for all of these pathogens. So, these very important key principles help us get through this and will help us to get to that next stage as soon as possible.”

After Oglaza took questions, Jenn Fagan, Communications and Public Relations Specialist with KFL&A Public Health, announced that, because the COVID-19 activity in the community is slowing, KFL&A Public Health plans to switch to bi-weekly COVID-19 press updates. “So, that means next Wednesday there won’t be [a press conference]; the following Wednesday there will, and we will continue that way. We’ll revisit the situation on a regular basis based on COVID-19 activity,” Fagan explained.

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