Algoma Public Health limits gatherings and interrupts school activities

Kick off Monday, in place for Christmas

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Algoma Public Health is ordering more mandatory measures to further limit the number of gatherings and restrict high-risk close contact activities, including team sports, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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Meeting limits – maximum 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors – will be in place for Christmas and will remain in effect until Tuesday. December 28, except extension, modification or cancellation as the situation evolves.

The new mandatory measures are designed to curb the spread of the virus, prevent serious illness and death in the district and protect the capacity of the health system, a press release issued by the public health unit said on Friday evening.

The new restrictions come as the APH has reached the milestone of 1,000 COVID-19 cases reported since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 activity is the highest since the start of the pandemic, and Algoma’s case rate is currently among the highest in Ontario.

There are currently 285 active cases in Algoma with 14 hospitalizations.

During the 7-day period from November 19 to 25, the rates of new COVID-19 cases in Algoma were 160.8 cases per 100,000 population, with the most recent positivity percentage of 3.4%. In comparison, at the beginning of October, the incidence over 7 days was less than 5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and the percentage of positivity was less than 0.5%.

Community spread is evident and “a significant number” of cases can be followed by exposures from other health units and internationally, said Dr. Jennifer Loo, APH medical officer of health.

Algoma residents of all ages have been affected, with higher infection rates among young adults and children. In a recent seven-day period (November 19 to 25), 35% of Algoma cases were in people 20 to 39 years old, 25% in children 0 to 19 years old, 24% in people 40 to 59 years old, 13% of people aged 60 to 79, and 2% were over 80 years old.

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Of the 38 hospitalizations since October 1, 26 people were not fully immune and 12 cases were fully immune. According to statistics from the APH, intensive care beds were filled with more than 70% of people not fully immunized.

The new mandatory restrictions are actions endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario and follow a collective order under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, residents of the Algoma area must limit the number of participants at organized social gatherings and public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

“These limits apply to social gatherings, whether they take place in private places, like homes and apartments, or in places like restaurants and meeting and event spaces,” the ordinance said.

These limits apply to social gatherings that take place before or after weddings, funerals, and religious services and ceremonies. capacity limits, depending on the location of the ceremony).

Workplace events organized by companies or organizations solely for essential purposes, such as training events or continuing education sessions, are not considered “organized public events”.

While the APH says the vast majority of people affected by COVID-19 are doing the right thing and carefully following isolation requirements, public health enforcement is a tool of last resort and non-compliance of the legal order is an offense and may result in a fine of up to $ 750, or up to $ 5,000 per day or part of a day during which the offense continues, if recognized guilty.

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APH also requires that Sault Ste. Marry businesses and organizations to strengthen masking and physical distancing requirements and prohibit certain high-risk close contact activities. They include the requirement for colleagues sharing the same room or workspace to remain masked at all times, unless they are separated by plexiglass or another waterproof barrier.

Provincial requirements remain those that require workers who remove their masks to eat or drink from a distance of two meters.

The new rules will also have an impact on indoor and outdoor sports and recreational facilities. Participants in fitness or exercise classes should keep a physical distance of three meters and team sports or games should not be played or practiced unless they avoid personal contact. Limited exceptions apply to professional and elite sports leagues or associations.

Other restrictions include the wearing of masks for all personal care services including hair salons, hair salons, nail and pedicure salons, cosmetic services, piercing services, tanning salons , spas and tattoo studios.

Film and TV productions must also maintain a physical distance, expect to film the production if necessary.

Singers and band members in a concert hall should also be three meters apart, the order said.

In addition, the APH is suspending close contact extracurricular activities in Sault Ste. Marie for 28 days, including team sporting events. The four school boards in the region have agreed to put the measures in place.

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COVID-19 activity is not the same across the north, or all of Algoma, ”Loo said. “In local areas where there has been an increase in COVID-19 activity, such as Sault Ste. Marie, it is vital to put in place key safeguards and reduce the most risky activities. At the same time, we must work together to minimize the impacts on student learning and engagement in activities that support their physical, mental and social health and well-being.

APH is also working closely with all school boards to put protective measures in place in schools in Algoma. This includes new upcoming measures such as voluntary rapid antigen testing, as well as strengthening existing measures such as daily symptom screening, excluding anyone with symptoms and excluding unvaccinated children under 12 who have returned. international travel after attending school for 14 days after their return. .

In-person learning activities at school can continue throughout the interim measures.

Loo said the goals of the pandemic response have always been to minimize serious illness and death, limit disruption to society, and preserve healthcare capacity.

“Currently, over 75% of the total population of Algoma is fully immune and has good protection against serious illnesses caused by COVID-19. However, over 22,000 residents of Algoma are not yet fully immunized and nearly 13,000 residents of Sault Ste. Marie, where rates of new COVID-19 cases remain among the highest in the province, ”she said in the statement.

“I continue to urge all residents of Algoma to take immediate action to stop this wave of transmission and help protect vulnerable members of our community and preserve our health care capacity,” Loo said. “Work remotely if you can, stay home if you have symptoms, limit gatherings and meetings where you have close unmasked and face-to-face contact with people you don’t live with, and please do so. get fully immunized and help others to do so. so.”

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