Current wave could be deadlier than first – Chirico

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While the first wave of COVID-19 resulted in the largest number of deaths “there are some predictions that potentially there could be more” in the current wave, according to the medical officer of health for the region.

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Dr. Jim Chirico, in his report to the board of health of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, said reports of deaths linked to COVID-19 are on the rise, but cautioned that there is “some lag” in reporting those deaths.

The local region has seen 13 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared in March, 2020. Five of those deaths have been reported this month.

“What we are seeing across the province and locally is there have been a lot of community outbreaks, particularly through congregate living settings” such as nursing homes, retirement homes, group homes and corrections facilities.

An outbreak at the North Bay Jail has infected more than 130 people since it was declared Dec. 29. There are also outbreaks at Cassellholme in North Bay, Au Chateau in West Nipissing and at the West Nipissing General Hospital.

Chirico repeated that the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and in particular the highly transmissible omicron variant, continues to be getting vaccinatied.

“Certainly we know vaccination continues to be highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” he said,

He said those who have received at least two doses are 83 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital because of COVID-19, while 91 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital intensive care units.

“So we’re still seeing (vaccinations) to be very very effective preventing serious illness.”

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Chirico also noted that while there has been pressure on the health-care system because of the growing number of cases of COVID-19, “we haven’t been overrun” with cases.

He credited the “timely self-isolation” of cases and continuing public health measures with helping to keep the health-care system operating through the pandemic.

“Immunization and continuing public health measures are giving us the best protection possible,” he said.

At the same time, a COVID-19 assessment clinic has been activated at the North Bay Regional Health Centre to see suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 showing “moderate” symptoms. That can include people suffering from shortness of breath, fever, uncontrolled coughing or patients with potential high-risk complications.

Patients who cannot safely manage their moderate COVID-19 symptoms at home can book an appointment by calling 474-8600 extension 4110 to be assessed instead of going to the Emergency Department.

Walk ins are not accepted at this time.

Patients with severe symptoms should still attend the Emergency Department or call 911.

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