The Grey Bruce Health Unit is advising residents to take measures to help slow down the increase in spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves and others as local data suggests the rate of COVID-19 transmission is trending upward in the area.
Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra says all key COVID-19 indicators are increasing locally, compared to previous weeks, which, in general, mirrors provincial trends. This includes the number of outbreaks in long-term care, retirement homes, and hospitals as well as the number of hospital admissions related to COVID-19, test positivity rates, and new case counts.
“The COVID-19 indicators in Grey-Bruce are changing again as we move further into the fall respiratory illness season and as residents spend more time indoors,” Dr. Arra says.
“Although these trends are expected due to seasonality and we have local capacity to manage, they remain concerning because we know an increase in transmission on the population level will translate into more people getting sick and some of them experiencing severe outcomes, particularly residents aged 65 and older, those living in congregate care settings, and with underlying medical conditions.”
On Friday, there were 17 active COVID-19 outbreaks at facilities in Grey-Bruce.
Public Health has the capacity to address the increase in outbreaks and is closely monitoring local data and all key indicators related to COVID-19.
Provincially, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has been increasing for the past several weeks, while the weekly case count is at its highest level since August.
Staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations continues to be the most effective way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the most serious effects of the virus.
Booster doses are recommended for everyone aged five and older to help restore protection against the virus that may have decreased over time. Individuals aged 12 and older can receive a bivalent COVID-19 booster, which targets both the original strain of COVID-19 and Omicron – the most dominant variant circulating in the province and Grey-Bruce.
Evidence shows that both of the Health Canada-approved, Omicron-containing bivalent vaccines induce a stronger and more robust immune response and are expected to provide improved protection against the Omicron variant and subvariants compared to the original mRNA vaccines. They also help to restore immune protection that has decreased since previous vaccination.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit website includes up-to-date information on COVID-19 clinics in the area, vaccine eligibility and recommended intervals.
Staying home while sick is also key to slowing down transmission of the virus. People are also advised to practice hand hygiene, and wear a mask and practice physical distancing, when possible in crowded indoor spaces or while visiting loved ones in long-term care, retirement homes or other congregate care settings.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit is also urging people to get the flu shot, as both COVID-19 and influenza are co-circulating in the area this respiratory illness season.
All individuals aged six months and older can receive an influenza vaccine, which is the most effective way to prevent influenza illness and complications. Individuals aged six and older can receive their influenza vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after, their COVID-19 vaccine. As a precautionary measure, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization advises that children aged six months to five years wait at least 14 days between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and another vaccine.
Flu vaccines are available at participating pharmacies in Grey-Bruce and via health care providers. For more information, residents can call the Vaccine Preventable Diseases team at 519-376-9420 ext. 2 or email email@example.com.