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Local Kawartha Lakes medical officer discusses reopening related topics

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Inititiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Kawartha Lakes’ top doctor talked about a number of COVID-19 related items, during a recent virtual media information update.

On Wednesday, February 23rd, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) medical officer of health, Dr. Natalie Bocking, talked about the Ontario government’s decision to accelerate the reopening timeline in the province.

“These are difficult policy decisions for the government. We know they’re trying to weigh the risks and the benefits. We know there are risks lifting restrictions; we could see increased COVID-19 activity. As people have more contacts in their lives, there is more opportunity for the virus to spread. We know, however, there are risks with maintaining [restrictions], and harms with maintaining restrictions. So at what level do you find that balance, where there’s not an equal level of risk but an acceptable level of risk?” Dr. Bocking said. “I’m comfortable right now, the level, of activity of Omicron we’re seeing and the level of activity [which] might increase with lifting public health restrictions, will not result in overwhelming our healthcare system, the same way we saw [it happen] during the peak of Omicron, or the peaks of other waves.”

However, she cautioned all residents to follow basic health measures as “COVID-19 activity is still around.”

Masking has been a topic recently debated by provincial health officials. Dr. Bocking talked about when the masking requirement could potentially be lifted.

“It depends a little bit on ongoing [virus] activity and the impact of lifting the current restrictions, such as capacity limits and proof of vaccination requirements. It’s quite prudent to continue this staged approach, to see what the impact is in lifting some restrictions before easing all restrictions,” she said. “I’ve certainly heard some discussions, related to a timeline of another month or so, of masking requirements. Personally, that might be too soon. I know people are tired of wearing masks, but I think there is certainly a level of ongoing viral transmission in the community, [so] they’re still an important protective measure in protecting our vulnerable community members.”

The local health unit also recently announced their COVID-19 vaccination clinics, at their Lindsay and Port Hope offices, will open on Friday, March 4th, “and will run for the next few weeks on both Fridays and Saturdays.”

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