The good news is flu cases are way down

Article By Valerie MacDonald

It’s a few steps forward and then several back with the vaccinating plans of the local health unit.

Dr. Ian Gemmill, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR), said cases of COVID-19 are “actually seeing a reduction” provincially as well as locally and that 750 vaccine doses were put in the arms of some local, Long Term Care (LTC) residents last week. But a delay of this week’s inoculations has caused the scheduling of those slated to receive vaccinations to be put on hold.

According to his best information at this time, 1,000 more vaccine doses should arrive this weekend or early next week – and if that takes place those will go into the balance of the LTC residents arms living in the tri-county area, including Northumberland.

The next delivery is February 22, he said.

An advisory committee has been struck to organize mass immunizations within Northumberland, Haliburton and the City of Kawartha Lakes once sufficient vaccine is received. There is already a freezer in Port Hope to store the vaccine.

He anticipates vaccination of the general population will take place in spring and summer.

“It’s a slow start” but when we look back on it won’t seem quite that way, he suggested.

At this time, there are eight outbreaks within the health unit’s jurisdiction (an outbreak being defined as occurring in an LTC or senior home, businesses, etc. where one or more people have tested positive). The two most severe outbreaks are Hope Street Terrace in Port Hope (where five residents have died but which he hopes will soon be over) and Caressant Care McLaughlin in Lindsay (where there have been nine deaths).

These outbreaks in LTC facilities “tend to drag on” and are stressful and distressing for residents, family and staff, the MOH said.

Looking at the numbers of positive cases reported daily across Ontario, however, they have come down from a peak at about 4,000 daily to around 2,000 – and that trend has been reflected in local health unit numbers as well.

He also noted at this time that influenza “is at an all-time low in Canada” with just 55 cases across the country as of January 22. Some of the theories suggested for this low number include competition between the two viruses, the use of more personal safety measures and less travel. The lockdown and stay-at-home orders are key, the MOH said.

“I’m a very strong supporter of them” so the virus can’t circulate, he continued. But there has to be good vaccine coverage to reduce the number of vulnerable people who will be susceptible to catching COVID-19 before people can get back to some kind of normal.

What that normal will look like a year from now must still be determined, he said.