Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay medical officer of health comfortable with current reopening as COVID-19 case numbers remain low

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported one new COVID-19 case on Thursday, bringing the active case count to 31, which is its lowest level since May 27.
Thunder Bay District medical officer of health Dr. Janet DeMille says it was exciting to see outdoor restaurant patios reopen last week. (Thunder Bay District Health Unit YouTube)

The top public health official in the Thunder Bay district is expressing comfort with the beginning of the province's economic reopening, as case numbers continue to remain low nearly a week after restrictions started to loosen.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported one new COVID-19 case on Thursday, with the active case count falling to 31 for its lowest level since May 27. One death was reported, which is the region's first since May 18.

There have been 42 cases announced within the last 10 days.

Dr. Janet DeMille said it was exciting to see restaurant patios reopen, which was allowed as part of the first phase of the province's reopening plan that started on June 11.

"I'm really comfortable with those outdoor activities, again, as long as people are following those public health measures," DeMille said, adding she was cautiously optimistic it won't contribute to spread of the virus.

"If you have any symptoms, don't go out even to an outdoor patio." 

DeMille said there aren't any confirmed active cases of the delta variant, originally detected in India and is otherwise known as B.1.617.2. One week earlier she had labelled as her "number one concern" with COVID-19.

She said the presence of the delta variant in the Porcupine and Waterloo health unit areas, which has driven up case rates, does remain a potential risk.

"We could have a cluster of cases or an outbreak that could be fairly significant," DeMille said.

In the Thunder Bay district, 72 per cent of the population over the age of 12 has received at least a first dose of vaccine with 19 per cent fully immunized, as of June 12.

Earlier this week, the Northwestern Health Unit accelerated second dose eligibility to anyone who had either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot at least 28 days earlier. DeMille said the priority for second doses right now for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit remains those over the age of 70.

"We want those people to have access to vaccines so they can become fully immunized," she said, but added the health unit is preparing for a broadening of eligibility. "We know that a lot of them have their first dose and are waiting for their second dose."