North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health believes further COVID-19 restrictions are needed across the province.

“As of March 30th, variants of concern (VOCs) count for 69% of all COVID-19 cases in the province,” said Dr. Jim Chirico. “Compared to earlier variants of COVID-19, VOCs are associated with a 63% increase risk of hospitalization; 103% increase risk of intensive care unit admission and 56% increase risk of death due to COVID-19. In short, these variants are more contagious, result in a more serious illness, and are deadlier.”

Chirico added that provincially, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is 21% higher than at the start of the province-wide shutdown on December 26th, 2020.

“We’re also experiencing a shift in the demographic of who is being seriously infected with Covid-19,” he said. “Provincially, the percentage of patients in intensive care units who are younger of 60 years of age, is about 50% higher than it was at prior to the start of the province-wide shutdown.”

Chirico shared those figures during the Health Units weekly press conference where he was joined by Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, Public Health Physician, and Andrea McLellan, Director COVID-19 Immunization Strategy.

It comes on the morning after multiple media outlets reported a potential provincial-wide shutdown being reported later this afternoon.

“We await the details but we encourage you all to continue following public health measures. I know it will be difficult for all of us. For our financial well-being, for our social health and for our mental health. Small businesses have been particularly impacted by the uncertainty and the ever-changing restrictions from week to week. This is why I’ve said the quickest path to re-opening is not re-opening too soon,” said Dr. Chirico.

Despite COVID-19 numbers rising across the province and to our neighbouring Health Units to the West and to the South, the North Bay Parry Sound District is currently sitting at 6 local cases.

“Like I said before, we are not an island. Without appropriate interventions, it’s just a matter of time until we experience increases. We all must continue to follow public health measures; limit contact to household members only, travel outside the home should be for essential trips only, physically distance or wear face coverings or mask and wash or sanitize hands often. Until wide-spread vaccinations are completed, which will not be for months, these public health measures are the best way to protect the health and safety of everyone in our district,” finished Dr. Chirico.

The Health Unit will be hosting clinics at Memorial Gardens in North Bay on Saturday, Apr. 3, Sunday, Apr. 4, and Monday, Apr. 5. Clinics are open to adults born in 1946 or before, as well as community health care workers who have received their email code from the Ministry of Health.

Adults 70 – 74 years of age are also able to book appointments by phone only by calling the Health Unit’s call centre at 1-800-563-2808 and following the prompts. Additional vaccination clinics are being planned throughout our district for community health care workers and those born in 1951 and before as more vaccine is allocated to the Health Unit. Appointments can be booked online through the provincial booking system (with the exception of adults 70 – 74) or by phone by calling the Health Unit’s call centre.

The Health Unit Call Centre will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Apr. 2 to Monday, Apr. 5. Please note that appointments can be booked online seven days a week, 24 hours a day. More clinics throughout the district will be announced shortly.