KFL & A MOH pleads with the community as COVID-19 cases reach record highs

The message is still true: the best way to control this outbreak is to get vaccinated. “

Dr. Piotr Oglaza

Kingston Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, urged the community to “go back to basics” of COVID-19 prevention measures amid an unprecedented increase in cases in the KFL&A region.
Image via Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

With COVID-19 cases in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL & A) reaching an unprecedented record of 220 active cases, 16 admissions and a total of seven deaths (since the pandemic began, from Wednesday – one eighth COVID-19 deaths locally was reported after this meeting), Kingston’s physician for health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the community to “go back to basics”.

“[This is] a reminder to the community to return to basic precautions: screening for symptoms, getting tested when symptomatic, avoiding social gatherings, [and] wearing a mask, ”said Oglaza during KFL & A Public Health’s Health Council meeting, which was held virtually on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

“We have vaccines available. Anyone who has not received vaccinations strongly encourages everyone to do so,” he added.

Members of KFL & A ‘Public Health’s Health Council participate in the virtual meeting on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 with Dr. Piotr Oglaza on the third from the left.
Screenshot by Yona Harvey.

48 percent of COVID-19 cases in the community have been spread through households or close contacts, with 19 percent of cases without known sources.

“We are looking very closely at further action [for] promotion of immunizations. Most of the spread happens through household contacts. We do not see the spread happening where proof of vaccination is required to enter, [or] where there is masking, ”Oglaza added.

As the holiday season approaches, Dr. Oglaza community to be careful about meeting socially in private surroundings.

“The fact that you have to visit friends and families – they will meet and will not mask. Avoiding these types of scenarios is an important first step. In addition, those with comorbidities should be really careful when considering hosting or accepting invitations. to private gatherings, ”Oglaza warned.

“Unfortunately, even if they are immunized, some individuals may not benefit fully from the vaccine based on their current state of health. When we look at fully vaccinated [individuals] which is 80+, for many individuals with mild conditions, if they get sick and are hospitalized, they unfortunately can not cope. It is the sad reality of any kind of infectious pathogen and the limitation of vaccines in very fragile individuals. “

Approximately 165,000 members of the KFL&A community are fully immunized, but 43,000 are not (that number includes those not yet eligible for immunization). Oglaza said having 43,000 people without immunity would drive the spread of the virus along with the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant.

A slide from KFL & A’s presentation on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 shows active cases in Kingston and the area. Screenshot by Yona Harvey

“What’s important here, what keeps us safe, is that over 90 percent of our population aged 12 and over have been given one dose, and 87 percent are fully immunized. It goes back to the notion that even though we have 90 percent immunized, the message still remains true: the best way to control this outbreak is to be immunized, he added.

A question was raised at the meeting on the proliferation of COVID-19 at Queen’s University, to which Oglaza replied that there is “no increase in that setting. [It’s] mainly due to high immunization (rates) ”.

Regarding the spread of the virus in environments such as public transport, Oglaza reported that he has not seen outbreaks associated with buses.

“It’s hard to speculate on what factors may be contributing to it [public transit] be an option with lower risk. That’s the reality: we’ve seen proliferation in household spaces, in indoor spaces, [but] not in buses. “

Oglaza reported two major updates in November: “[As of] On November 16, we looked at analyzes of cases and the pattern of dispersal in society. That led us to that conclusion we have community spread. “

We can hit this fourth wave. There are ways we can ensure that we can be at the forefront. “

Dr. Piotr Oglaza

The second update is one instruction letter for indoor sports safety for young people. “We will communicate to the public the update on the instruction letter in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” he explained.

“This may not affect many individuals because it is about participating in indoor organized sports for 12- to 17-year-olds. We have issued a letter of instruction extending it to coaches and volunteers, to provide more coherence in how these rules apply. “At the same time, our school board partners in the wider Eastern Ontario region have already implemented policies that require the immunization of participants in non-teaching activities.”

However, there is still a gap as there are young people aged 12 to 17 who are not part of out-of-school sports through school. The letter also serves as an “early, generous grace period,” according to Oglaza, as the instruction letter goes into effect Monday, December 6, 2021, with participants expected to have at least one dose of the vaccine. Full immunization is not required until Friday, February 25, 2022.

Dr. Oglaza’s key message to those in Kingston and the region: Get vaccinated and get back to basics in COVID-19 prevention. Screenshot by Yona Harvey.

“[There are] two reasons: we recognize the importance and benefit of organized sport, [and] we want to balance this benefit with the protection that the vaccines will give to people who participate in sports, ”said Oglaza.

Oglaza showed graphs at the meeting showing the high incidence of cases, predominantly among the unvaccinated population of Ontario. “We see that adults in their 30s to 50s have low admissions if they are fully immunized. [There’s] very strong evidence from Ontario data showing that the vaccines do what we hope they would do. It may not completely protect against accidents, but what it does do very well is that it prevents serious outbreaks of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

A slide presented at KFL & A Public Health’s health council meeting shows COVID-19 results by vaccination status and age group. Screenshot by Yona Harvey.

“We can hit this fourth wave. There are ways we can ensure we can stay ahead,” Oglaza said optimistically.

Regarding flu blasts, Oglaza said there has been no change in this requirement over the years.

“It may be one of the reasons we are safe in this regard. We get protection against the flu shot. The message has always been ‘let’s not add the burden of another preventable pathogen to the mix when we are already in a pandemic ‘”.

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