THUNDER BAY — A leading Ontario epidemiologist believes the Thunder Bay District Health Unit should take measures immediately to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.
"The trajectory is in the wrong direction. At this rate, they will start to be challenged" with managing the situation, says Dr. Peter Juni.
Juni is the scientific director of the province's COVID-19 science advisory table.
The COVID-19 caseload has been rising steadily in the Thunder Bay area since mid-November, including cases at numerous schools.
The 54 new cases reported on Monday was the largest number of new cases reported since March 17, 2021.
It brought the active case count to 137, including some cases of the new Omicron variant.
The risk for TBDHU, Juni said, is that "You can't just get contact tracing, testing and management done as efficiently as before....Omicron pops up now, and you potentially have a problem."
He said although the challenges presented by the new variant aren't fully known yet, it needs to be taken very seriously.
It's why, Juni said, he recommends swift action to slow the spread of the Delta variant while simultaneously preventing Omicron from becoming dominant.
"If I were in the shoes of the local public health unit, and the medical officer of health, I would really follow the same sort of decision-making that Windsor-Essex has just had," he told TBNewswatch on Monday.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced Sunday that it is introducing new measures that go beyond current provincial regulations.
In its service area, where the rate of COVID-19 infections is starting to put a strain on local hospitals, the following restrictions will take effect on Dec. 10:
- social gatherings limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors
- added measures for wedding receptions and for social events tied to funerals and religious services
- limiting indoor capacity for bars and restaurants to 50 % of their usual occupancy limit
- strict adherence to face-covering requirements in all public settings
"The virus loves indoor spaces. It hasn't changed for Delta and it won't change for Omicron either," Dr. Juni said.
He said it's also essential that people "don't cut corners with masking."
At sports venues specifically, he said, he would seriously consider disallowing the consumption of food and drink in order to keep masks in place.