The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has announce that starting April 7, residents 60 years of age and older can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment using Ontario’s online booking system at www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine
Individuals who require assistance with booking can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.
All remaining individuals listed within the province’s Phase 1 priority populations who have not yet been vaccinated or not yet booked an appointment are asked to pre-register using the EOHU online pre-registration tool at www.EOHU.ca/register. Pre-registration facilitates booking appointments quickly and easily as vaccine supply increases and more appointments become available.
The Ontario government has loosened restrictions on many businesses while maintaining a shutdown in most of the province until February 16 as it strives to contain COVID-19. While it maintained most existing restrictions Monday, the government is enabling many retailers to reopen while limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail businesses.
There will be a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies.
The Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to most of the province 28 until February 16, when most areas, including the region served by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is expected to return to the provincial COVID-19 response framework “and no longer be subject to the shutdown and stay-at-home orders.”
The government added, “These dates may change depending on the trends in local public health indicators.”
As local trends of key public health indicators improve, regions will be gradually transitioned back into this framework, with some new and modified measures in place.
Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier Ford. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That's why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”
Face covering and gathering limits requirements also remain in effect, however, the declaration of “emergency” will expire.
“While we have seen some progress in our fight against COVID-19, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and the new variants pose a considerable threat to all of us,” said Minister Elliott. “As we cautiously and gradually transition out of the provincewide shutdown, we have developed an emergency brake system giving us the flexibility to contain community spread quickly in a specific region, providing an extra layer of protection.”
Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province's pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed.
If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission. “While we are seeing our numbers trend in the right direction, our situation remains precarious as the variants of concern remain a serious risk,” said Dr. Williams. “This is not a re-opening or a 'return to normal' and we must continue to limit close contact to our immediate households and stay at home except for essential reasons. By continuing to follow all public health and workplace safety measures, we can continue to reduce the number of new cases and the strain on our health system.”
“While the declaration of emergency will be ending, the risks posed by COVID-19 and the new variants remain serious concerns,” said Solicitor General Jones. “That's why extending the stay-at-home orders for most of the province is necessary to protect our communities, our most vulnerable populations, and stop the spread of COVID-19. We continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health guidelines and stay home, stay safe, and save lives.”
Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region. Provincewide shutdown measures went into effect December 26. The government declared its second provincial emergency on January 12, 2021 and issued a Stay-at-Home order to reduce mobility and address hospital capacity concerns.
With students preparing to return to classes next week, the number of total active COVID-19 cases in the region served by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit stands at 410 as of January 29, a decrease of six from January 28.
The number of active cases in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry has increased by four to 111, while the number in Cornwall has dropped by one to 160; in Prescott-Russell the total has dipped by two to 121 and in the northern part of Akwesasne, the number of active cases has dropped by seven to 18. There are 26 active cases in South Glengarry and 19 in North Glengarry.
Overall, in Eastern Ontario, 24 patients are hospitalized; six are in intensive care. The number of deaths stands at 52; there are 18 outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
Meanwhile, as “Ontarians are on their way to successfully flattening the curve by the continued adherence to the province's public health measures,” the Ontario Hospital Association cautions, “We are not in the clear yet.”
Unfortunately, a new and highly contagious variant of COVID-19, B. 1. 1. 7, is now circulating in Ontario, putting the province's critical care capacity at risk once again. “The rate at which this variant rapidly spread throughout Roberta Place in Barrie shows the devastating and unforgiving toll that this variant can take,” warns the OHA. “At this stage of the pandemic, with health care workers exhausted and minimal surge capacity left in the system, we must not lose our focus. Almost 25 per cent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, and more than half of ICUs across the province are full or have only one or two beds left,” says OHA President and CEO Anthony Dale. “The steps taken in recent weeks have not been easy, but they have been essential to protecting the province's finite health system capacity.”
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has announced that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in the EOHU region.
In accordance with the Ontario government’s mandate for the immunization of priority populations, the vaccines will be administered to residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care (LTC) homes starting January 13.
Local EMS paramedics and public health nurses from the EOHU will administer the vaccines within the LTC homes. “This is excellent news for our region,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health.
“Vaccinating residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes will help protect our most vulnerable residents, who have been the most harshly affected by the spread of COVID-19.”
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines are Pfizer vaccines, however, it is expected that Moderna vaccines will also arrive in the EOHU region within the coming weeks.
Due to a limited supply of vaccines, the Ontario government’s Phase 1 roll-out of the vaccine prioritizes individuals who are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 or of developing a severe illness or dying from COVID. Vaccinations will begin with residents, staff and essential caregivers at long-term care homes and retirement homes, before moving on to other groups as more vaccine stock arrives in the region. Vaccine delivery is expected to accelerate over the coming months.
As vaccine stock increases, vaccination will expand to more population groups. It is anticipated that by this fall (or sooner), anyone who wants a vaccine will have access to one.
The EOHU will notify the public as the vaccine becomes available to different population groups. The EOHU urges residents to continue following public health measures throughout the coming months.
“While the arrival of the vaccine in our region is a great first step towards protecting our community, the reality is that it will be a number of months before the vaccine is available to everyone who wants it. In the meantime, we are seeing COVID-19 infections rapidly increasing in our area and across the country,” says Dr. Roumeliotis. “We must continue to maintain public health measures like masking, physical distancing and proper hand washing to protect our community until enough of our population has been immunized and the pandemic is brought under control.”
The first COVID-19 vaccinations in Eastern Ontario are scheduled to begin next week, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says. The first delivery of 1,200 doses will be administered in long-term care facilities, with the vaccination of the most vulnerable people expected to be completed by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the number of positive cases in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell and the northern part of Akwesasne has increased to 511. Six patients are in hospital; none is in intensive care.
The Eastern Ontario Heath Unit region is now "Orange restrict" under the Ontario government's COVID-19 response framework, after being labelled "Yellow-protect" last week.
The designation, meaning that stricter measures will be implemented in our region, was changed despite a decrease in active cases in the EOHU jurisdiction.
"These adjustments are necessary to respond to the latest evidence we're seeing and we are prepared to make further adjustments as the health experts continue to review the current public health restrictions. We must do whatever it takes to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed and protect our most vulnerable," said Premier Doug Ford.
The latest modelling shows that if the number of new cases continues to grow at its current rate, the province could register up to 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December. Within the next two weeks the province will likely exceed its intensive care threshold of 150 beds, under any potential scenario.
The framework changes are in response to the current data and trends, and will lower the threshold for each of the five levels for: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission.
Here is a summary of guidelines for the Orange zone.
General public health measures (gatherings, workplace requirements and face coverings)
- Events and social gatherings
- 10 people indoors
- 25 people outdoors
- Organized public events and gatherings:
- 50 people indoors
- 100 people outdoors
- Religious services, weddings and funerals:
- 30% capacity indoors
- 100 people outdoors
- Requirement for workplace screening
- Face coverings required in:
- indoor workplaces
- indoor public spaces, with limited exemptions
- Where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers, workers must use additional protections such as eye protection
- Workplaces must develop and implement a communication/public education plan (highlighting risk)
- Physical distancing must be maintained
- Non-essential travel from areas of high-transmission to areas of low transmission should be avoided
The number of people at the Prescott-Russell Residence in Hawkesbury to die from COVID-19 has increased to nine.
There were at last report, 72 active cases, including 45 residents and 27 employees.
To date, 21 people in the region served by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit have died due to the coronavirus.
There are currently 203 active cases in the region; eight patients are hospitalized; two are in intensive care.
“While I applaud the government’s efforts to lower the number of cases in areas experiencing high rates of transmission, I don’t see the need at this point for targeted measures in our area,” states Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). “However, we are closely monitoring the situation in Eastern Ontario and will take action if required.”
The comments were made after the Ontario government announced Friday that it is tightening public health measures to curb the rising number of COVID-19 infections in the province.
While continuing to make mask use mandatory inside all buildings, the government is pausing social circles and recommending that all Ontarians limit their close contacts to people living in their own household and maintain physical distancing measures with everyone else.
“I agree with the tightening of these public health measures,” says Dr. Roumeliotis.
“The cases we are seeing in our area are mostly a result of individuals not wearing masks and failing to maintain their distance at private social gatherings. I believe these reinforced measures will help put an end to this type of transmission.”
Targeted public health measures in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto
The province also announced the introduction of targeted public health measures in the regions of Ottawa, Peel and Toronto due to their higher than average rates of transmission.
The new measures, which take effect October 3, will restrict occupancy in bars, restaurants and other food and drink establishments, where a maximum of 100 patrons will now be allowed in the premises. Restrictions have also been tightened for gyms and other fitness settings, as well as banquet halls and other meeting and event facilities.
For more information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19, check out the EOHU’s website at www.EOHU.ca/coronavirus.