Thunder Bay

Don't travel this holiday season, says Thunder Bay health unit amid COVID-19 spike, Omicron cases

Dr. Janet DeMille said Friday that with the rise in COVID -19 case numbers in many jurisdictions and increased risk due to the Omicron variant, travel is not advisable at this time.

Dr. Janet DeMille says city's recent uptick in COVID-19 cases stems from out-of-province, U.S. travel

A United States-bound passenger walks in Toronto Pearson Airport's Terminal 3 on Dec. 3. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Latest

  • Holiday travel is not advised amid rising COVID-19 counts says Dr. Janet DeMille
  • Ten new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Thunder Bay Friday, 57 total active cases
  • Northwestern Ontario health unit recommends schools cancel extra-curricular activities

Health officials in Thunder Bay and across northwestern Ontario are asking residents avoid all non-essential travel outside northwestern Ontario, regardless of vaccination status this holiday season. 

On Friday, Dr. Janet DeMille, Thunder Bay's district medical officer of health said travel is not advisable as COVID-19 case numbers rise across the province and the emerging Omicron variant presents increased worries. 

"The reality is, I think we're going to see very substantial increases from COVID-19 due to Omicron in other parts of the province and other parts of the country," she said. "And this is going to manifest even over the next few days and in the next couple of weeks. And it will it will be quite significant."

Omicron could mean a  'rough time' for Thunder Bay 

DeMille said recent COVID-19 cases in the Thunder Bay district have come from places such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Manitoba and from other jurisdictions within Ontario and Canada.

She said any returning travelers or visitors to our region are recommended to stay at home as much as possible for 10 days following their arrival, and to limit close interactions with others and to not attend any gatherings.

DeMille also said she is concerned that while the province has recently lowered capacity limits on large venues, and shared information on access to rapid testing, it won't be enough to stop a surge of Omicron.

"Ontario and of course, us [in Thunder Bay] are in for a rough time in the coming months," she said.  "And the measures that the province currently has put in place won't be enough to really make a dent in the kind of spread that we could be seeing. "

On Thursday, Ontario's COVID-19 science table called for immediate and stringent public health measures to combat a growing surge of the Omicron variant that could see ICU admissions reach "unsustainable levels" early next year.

The group's latest modelling suggests that without "circuit breaker" restrictions to reduce social contacts by about 50 per cent, booster shots alone will likely not be enough to stop daily cases reaching between 6,000 and more than 10,000 per day by the end of 2021.

Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health and CEO of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. (Gord Ellis/CBC )

10 new cases of COVID-19 in Thunder Bay 

Meanwhile, 10 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Thunder Bay region on Friday.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) said one of the new cases was the result of travel outside of northwestern Ontario, three exposures are pending, and six are due to close contact.

  • All 10 of the cases are in Thunder Bay and surrounding communities. 
  • 11 cases are resolved, and there is one active case in hospital.
  • One more person has died from COVID-19. 
  • The current active number of cases in the TBDHU region is 57. 

 24 new cases in NWHU today 

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) announced 24 new cases of the virus in its service area today.

12 cases are in the Kenora area, six are in the Sioux Lookout area and three are in the Rainy River area. There were also two new cases in the Dryden area and one in the Emo area.

Currently, there are 81 active cases of COVID-19 in th NWHU catchment area, which includes 19 municipalities; 39 First Nations communities; and two unincorporated/unorganized territories, in the province's northwest. 

The Northwestern Health Unit is also recommending all indoor extra-curricular activities for children be suspended in the Fort Frances, Emo and Rainy River areas.

It comes after the closure of two Fort Frances elementary schools. J.W. Walker School and St. Mary School have had multiple COVID-19 cases, but the NWHU said it's not contacting families with instructions.

That's because all students have been told to self-isolate for J.W. Walker until December 21 and for St. Mary until December 23.

The Northwestern Medical Officer of health  Dr. Kit Young Hoon said the recommendation is in place until public health officials determine the risk has subsided.

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