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Pandemic not over yet, according to the HKPR medical officer of health

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Despite many governments and organizations switching their focus over to pandemic recovery, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) top doctor is stressing this is not the end of the pandemic.

“The pandemic, despite our best wishes, is not over,” local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking said, at the first HKPR meeting of 2023 on Thursday, January 19th.

She added, “we can’t say COVID-19 is gone,” and stated the virus is expected to “remain here for quite some time.”

In her update to health unit board members, while saying the “respiratory [virus] season is not over,” Dr. Bocking said health unit data saw Influenza cases peak in the middle of December.

With the school vaccine program having been impacted by the pandemic over the last couple of years, Dr. Bocking said it would take years to catch up on the immunization backlog.

Looking ahead to the rest of this year, Dr. Bocking noted the health unit is expecting to see the “continued emergence of Omicron sub-variants” and didn’t rule out the possibility of a discovery of a new variant of concern. The health unit is also expecting to see new guidance on the frequency of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

Moving forward, she noted there would “continue to be a role for masking” as a community protection tool, and she also stressed the importance of hand hygiene.

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