Thunder Bay

6 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in both Thunder Bay district and the northwest on Tuesday

Six new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Thunder Bay district on Tuesday. The Northwestern Health Unit also reported six new cases.

10 cases listed as resolved

Six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the Thunder Bay district on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Six new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Thunder Bay district on Tuesday.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) said four of the cases are due to close contact, one is the result of travel outside of the region, and one remains under investigation.

All six cases are in Thunder Bay and surrounding areas.

Ten cases are listed as resolved; as of Tuesday morning, there were 44 active, confirmed cases of the virus in the district.

The TBDHU also announced one more variant of concern has been detected.

The variant case isn't one of the cases announced Tuesday; all positive COVID-19 tests are screened for variants, but that happens after the case is reported to public health.

The new variant was detected in a positive COVID-19 case that had been reported earlier by the TBDHU.

COVID-19 outbreak declared at hospital 2B medical inpatient unit

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday declared an outbreak in its 2B medical inpatient unit over.

The outbreak was declared on March 30, and as of May 1, it had been 14 days since the last exposure, with no new cases among staff or patients, the hospital said. All control measures put in place as a result of the outbreak have been discontinued.

The Northwestern Health Unit reported 66 active COVID-19 cases in the region as of Tuesday. (Patti Fairfield)

NWHU says case numbers still headed in wrong direction

In the region, the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) announced six new cases in its service area on Tuesday:

  • One new case in the Emo area.
  • One new case in the Sioux Lookout area.
  • Two new cases in the Kenora area.
  • And two new cases in the Rainy River area.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 66 active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the NWHU district.

Despite a decrease in active cases since yesterday, the NWHU medical officer of health says the infection rate across the region is still going in the wrong direction. 

"This is disappointing for the entire region as we are collectively under an emergency brake and stay at home order, which is a very high level of public health restrictions. It is necessary for all of us to collectively follow public health measures and recommendations in order for case numbers to come down," said Dr. Kit Young Hoon in a media briefing Tuesday. 

She adds not following restrictions not only increases case numbers, but also the rate of hospitalization and death in the region. Schools returning to in-person learning and the reopening of various businesses will only occur when broader public health measures are followed, she said. 

NWHU expects "large gains" in vaccination rate this month 

As case numbers continue to rise across the northwest, Young Hoon said efforts to "rapidly" vaccinate the population in the NWHU service area continues to be a main strategy in preventing the spread of the virus.

"The variants of concern are a driver of case numbers, and we've seen that across the province where case numbers, hospitalizations, ICU admissions have been increasing rapidly because of the variants over the past few months," she said. "So in a way, it is a race. Particularly at this time, where we're finding that the numbers are still increasing despite strong public health measures and the vaccination part of this response to COVID-19 is particularly important."

Starting Thursday, vaccination eligibility will open up to people ages 50 and older, along with people who have high-risk health conditions, and to essential workers in group 1 of the provincial roll-out.

Young Hoon said she expects most people in the region should be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine before the end of June.

"We are pleased to see the interest in vaccines locally and expect that we will make large gains in coverage rates over the month of May. I remind the public that the vaccine is safe and effective, and that there are very low rates of serious adverse side effects of the vaccine," she said.

To date, over 29,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in  NWHU in the catchment area. Young Hoon said about 50 percent of people aged 18 and older in the region have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of May 1, 2021, the TBDHU has reported that 61,898 individuals in the district area have received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to the health unit, 45.1 percent of the eligible population has received at least one dose.