KFLA medical officer of health Dr. Moore issues statement regarding provincial emergency declaration

KFLA Public Health medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.

The following is a statement from KFLA Public Health medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore

In response to the alarming increases in COVID-19 cases in the province, on January 12, 2021 the Government of Ontario declared a second provincial emergency to enhance public health measures in an effort to reduce increasing case counts and reduce the load on our health care system.

Despite the lockdown that was implemented on December 26, cases of COVID-19 have continued to climb across the province.  A stay-at-home order will be implemented under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and be effective January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and stay in effect until February 11, 2021. This order aims to reduce number of daily contacts with those outside of an immediate household. Please stay home as much as possible, with exceptions for going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care, going to essential work, or enjoying physical activity. Additional information regarding this order is forthcoming from the provincial government.

Some families may feel discouraged with the recent news about the extension of at-home learning for local elementary students. Please know that this is a temporary, preventative measure put in place by the province to ensure that schools can open as safely as possible this year and stay open for the remainder of the year. I recognize the importance education, routine, and socialization to the health and wellbeing of students. Continued efforts to practice preventative measures will contribute to a successful reopening of local schools once provincial restrictions are lifted. The province will reassess the return to in-person learning for KFL&A schools on January 20, 2021.

In the KFL&A area, public health restrictions, paired with the diligence and sacrifices of local residents during the holiday season have helped keep case rates relatively stable. I thank you for your diligence. However, we are not immune to outbreaks and we cannot become complacent. The continued vigilance of residents is essential to help keep our community safe and lift public health restrictions as soon as possible.

I know you have had enough of the pandemic and we are all hopeful that 2021 will restore some sense of normalcy to our day to day lives. With yesterday’s announcement that vaccines have arrived at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), hope is around the corner. The first shipment of vaccines to KHSC marks the beginning of Phase 1 of the three-phased provincial vaccine rollout in our region. Residents, health care workers, and essential caregivers in long term care homes and high-risk retirement homes have been prioritized and are beginning to receive the first batch of vaccines.

Widespread vaccination is essential to improve community immunity and end the pandemic. However, we must ask for your patience as vaccines are prioritized to those who need them most, and to the regions with the highest rates of COVID-19. By vaccinating and protecting people in these priority groups as soon as possible, we will decrease the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks among those who are at greatest risk. We expect that Phase 1 will take place gradually in our region throughout the winter months. We currently expect that Phase 2 will begin in our region in April. Phase 2 will prioritize vaccination for essential workers and older adults, beginning with those aged 70 years of age and over. By early fall, we expect the vaccine will be available to the general public. This process will take time, and we appreciate your patience, and we will continue to communicate to our community about the vaccine and its distribution.

Even as we begin distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, I cannot stress enough, that until the majority of individuals, especially vulnerable individuals, have been vaccinated, we all must continue to do everything we can to protect one another from the spread of illness, and to continue practicing public health measures. I ask you to respect current restrictions by avoiding close contact with anyone outside your household as this significantly reduces the risk of spreading illness to others. In addition, please continue to wear face coverings, physically distance from others, wash hands frequently, and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if you feel unwell, even if your symptoms are mild.

As we begin this new year with renewed hope and optimism, I want to again thank you for making responsible choices to protect your health, the health of those around you and the health of your fellow community members. Please remain vigilant over the coming weeks and months. I ask you to stay home, you can stay safe and save lives. If you leave your home for essential shopping and services, please stay local and support our local community. The continued efforts of individuals and families will help keep the number of positive cases low in our area and help our community stay safe until vaccines are available to all.

For the most up to date information visit www.Kflaph.ca/Coronavirus or COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario.

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