Sudbury

Northern Ontario not out of COVID-19 woods yet, doctors say

A Sudbury immunologist says it's important not to become complacent about safety measures as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Now is not the time for complacency, immunologist says

A nurse at the Sudbury assessment centre holds a completed COVID test kit that will now be off to the laboratory. (Erik White/CBC )

A Sudbury immunologist says it's important not to become complacent about safety measures as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

After a number of weeks with no new cases, Sudbury now has three active cases of COVID-19.

Alain Simard, an associate professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, says at this point, it's difficult to say whether the new cases can be connected with the province's reopening.

"One of the things is that the virus spreading wasn't as prevalent as we had originally seen and that we had basically been successful at flattening the curve," Simard said.

"But looking elsewhere, whether it's around the world or even in Canada we still had some cases not too far from here," Simard said. 

"We also had some examples of other areas where they haven't had any cases in a number of weeks and then all of a sudden we had a few and, then a small increase...a small pandemic or a mini pandemic ...occurred in those areas."

"So it also shows that you know this isn't over for us, yet."

Simard says there were concerns that numbers might have risen more by now, but notes an increase in the weeks ahead is still a possibility.

"The big question is whether a sufficient amount of people are going to take the necessary precautions when they do go out in public," he said. "And that's going to be the biggest factor in determining whether or not we have a second wave, or a larger second wave."

Simard says he has noticed people not wearing masks in stores and not physical distancing.

He says the key message now should be around working together to minimizing the impact of a second wave, and allowing businesses and services that have reopened to stay open. 

Porcupine Health Unit expects more cases

Dr. Lianne Catton, the chief medical officer for the Porcupine Health Unit, says she is cautiously optimistic about how re-opening is going despite recent positive cases in the district. 

Catton says it is too soon to speculate whether two cases reported last week – the first since early May –  are connected to the looser restrictions of phase two.

"I'm really impressed when we see the handwashing stations and markings within local businesses and stores to really outline what two meters looks like," Catton said. "It's a new norm, and I think we all need to continue to be mindful of the steps that will make a difference."

Catton says she has generally been happy with the actions people are continuing to take, such as wearing masks, and physical distancing. 

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