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COVID-19: Health unit sends out long weekend tips with outbreak and hospitalizations increasing

COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and outbreaks surged in Huron and Perth counties this week, leading public health officials to recommend “layers of protection” against the virus and other respiratory illnesses over Thanksgiving weekend.

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COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and outbreaks surged in Huron and Perth counties this week, leading public health officials to recommend “layers of protection” against the virus and other respiratory illnesses over Thanksgiving weekend.

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Huron Perth Public Health reported three new deaths, 11 active outbreaks and seven active hospital admissions in its weekly data dump on Wednesday.

The health unit confirmed that two of the recent deaths were linked to an outbreak in long-term care homes in the area. The other occurred in the wider community.

There have been 130 COVID-related deaths in Huron Perth since the start of the pandemic.

The number of outbreaks reported in the region on Wednesday increased by five compared to last week. Active outbreaks include seven in long-term care homes and local retirement homes and four in unnamed living quarters.

As the fall and winter respiratory illness season approaches, thinking about prevention is important, especially during the holidays, the district health official said Friday.

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“I know how important it is to meet with family and friends, and I encourage everyone to take precautionary measures to keep these special occasions as safe as possible, especially for those most at risk of becoming seriously ill,” said Dr. Miriam Claassen. “Reduce your risk as much as possible. If you are sick, please stay home.”

Other layers of protection recommended by the health unit include:

  • washing hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after touching your face or high-touch surfaces;
  • covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or a shirt sleeve, not your hands;
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys, door handles, light switches, and cell phones, especially if the person is sick;
  • wearing a mask for 10 days after symptoms of respiratory illness, positive COVID-19 test result, or exposure to a person with COVID-19;
  • not visiting immunocompromised people or high-risk places such as long-term care homes for 10 days after you became ill;
  • Stay up-to-date with all vaccinations for which you are eligible; And the
  • Open windows to ensure proper ventilation during indoor celebrations or to move those celebrations outdoors.

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The health unit said mask-wearing should also be considered indoors if you are at higher risk of developing severe illness or interact with elderly people or immunocompromised individuals. Those considered to be at higher risk of serious illness are individuals who are older, pregnant, immunocompromised, obese, unvaccinated, or have Down syndrome or a chronic medical condition.

There were 1,456 people in Ontario hospitals due to COVID-19 Thursday, a jump from 1,265 the previous week, according to government figures that are also updated every seven days. Among them, 131 people are in intensive care.

Strict public health measures haven’t been imposed in Ontario for several months, but COVID-19 remains a burden for primary care doctors and nurses, according to the province’s now-defunct science schedule this week.

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The Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table has released three briefs focused on response to the pandemic by family doctors and nurses, suggesting that the way medical care is delivered must be reconsidered.

It found that patients who were not connected to their family doctor or medical team had worse health outcomes during the pandemic. It also found that primary care teams responded to patients’ needs better than individual practitioners.

Other findings included the uneven distribution of access to primary care across the county, a paucity of data on the same care and major cross-communication problems.

“We are seeing huge numbers of people who are unable to access primary care in Ontario, we have an exhausted workforce and we need to think differently about the care we will provide in the future,” said senior author Dr. Danielle Martin, a family physician and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at University of Toronto.

Public Health Ontario dissolved its independent voluntary science table in early September, with a new group under its watch that will meet for the first time sometime in October.

– Files from the Canadian Press

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