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Region’s top doctor in support of provincial shutdown

Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health for the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, says he is in support of the Ontario government’s provincial shutdown set to begin on December 26. 

“Although we were in the green zone, I am supportive of a province-wide shutdown. This is the most effective way of slowing the spread of the virus,” Dr. Chirico told the media during a conference on Tuesday afternoon. 

Chirico says if the region were exempt from a lockdown, it would only make things worse in the long run.

“We are all in this together. Without a province-wide shutdown, it was likely we would see an increase in cases like we’ve seen in southern Ontario,” he said. 

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The Health Unit’s region will be under a 14-day shutdown as it is grouped into “northern Ontario”. Southern Ontario will have a lockdown for 28 days. 

With Canada and the province beginning to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Chirico says it could still be a while before we see them in our region. 

“At this time, the province is in the planning phase and it’s really too early to speak as to when there will be vaccines available to the northern health units,” he said. “We will share the information with the public when it becomes available.”

Dr. Chirico adds the Ontario hotspots for COVID-19 (Toronto, Windsor-Essex) have top priority when it comes to immunization. 

“Their need is more urgent, so we have to be patient,” he stated. 

Dr. Chirico also addressed the recent increase in COVID-19 in the area.

“We have seen a larger amount of young adults contract COVID-19 in our region,” he warned, adding the age group of 19 years old and younger is the third-most-infected demographic in the area, behind the 20-39 and 40-59 age groups. 

During the lockdown, Dr. Chirico assured that police services in the area (North Bay Police Service, North Bay OPP, Anishinabek Police Service) will be on the lookout for potential violators of the lockdown and all have the power to hand out fines. 

“Violations will be taken seriously,” Dr. Chirico cautioned.

Dr. Chirico added that you should not have holiday gatherings with people outside your household unless you live alone. In that case, those visiting other households should still take proper precautions while doing so. 

“There is still more to be done, and we all need to do our part,” Dr. Chirico finished. 

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