Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says it’s currently unclear if COVID-19 is spreading throughout the Kenora community, as they continue to track 10 active cases in the area.

“Considering the number of cases in the Kenora area, and that they’re not necessarily connected together, it could be that there’s transmission happening in the Kenora area.”

Young Hoon says the cases at SMB, St. Thomas Aquinas and Valleyview are still under investigation, but there have been no additional cases of COVID-19 reported as of yet.

“With all of these cases, case and contact management is ongoing until the periods of self-isolation end. For these situations, it cannot be determined whether there is transmission in the schools, until we start getting results back.”

“We haven’t been notified of any new cases in the school’s setting. So there’s no clear sense, at this point, of whether there is transmission happening within the schools.”

Young Hoon says due to the recent cases, staff are asking residents to be even more cautious in the area, and to continue to avoid non-essential travel.

“All close contacts have been advised to self-isolate. We encourage everyone to enhance their personal protective measures, that includes staying two metres away from people who are not from your household, stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands regularly and wear a mask.”

“As the weather gets cooler, people tend to start socializing indoors opposed to outdoors. Being indoors with individuals not in your social circle can increase the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. Please stay within your household bubble, and limit the number of people you’re connecting with.”

For the Thanksgiving long weekend, staff are asking residents to consider celebrating virtually, especially if any family members are at an increased risk of severe illness. If you do gather in-person, you’re asked to limit the length of time for the gathering.

“For Thanksgiving, we are encouraging people to avoid large gatherings, avoid non-essential travel outside of northern Ontario, and to stay within your household social bubble. If you are gathering, meet outside, or consider virtual dinners. Do not host if someone in your house is unwell or are self-isolating.”

Family members and students should also assess the risk they may pose to their families before returning home for the holidays, as you may be bringing the virus into your community.

Last week, the Northwestern Health Unit advised residents to avoid all non-essential travel outside of northern Ontario. Those that wish to travel outside the region can, but should perform a risk assessment before leaving the area.

If you do travel outside of northern Ontario, the health unit says you should self-isolate for 14 days upon returning if you have come in contact with a close contact of a positive case or have been exposed to an outbreak situation.

If you have symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19, contact your local assessment centre or nursing station immediately. If you have had close contact with a known case, get tested.

For more information:
Healthcare staff warn against Thanksgiving gatherings
Health unit addresses Birchwood outbreak, notification process