Recent gatherings creating ‘ripple effect’ of COVID-19 spread

Almost all individuals not fully immunized, health unit says

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A small number of social gatherings earlier this month have created a “ripple effect” across the district, resulting in more positive cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks among close contacts, medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico says.

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During the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s weekly virtual media conference Thursday, Chirico said most cases from the beginning of July have been linked to these social gatherings.

In recent weeks, COVID-19 has spread to close contacts of those cases, he said, and one has since tested positive for the Delta variant, which is considered to be more contagious, with more expected to be confirmed.

Five also were children under the age of 12, who currently are ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chirico said this trend shows the impact that gatherings of large groups of people, who aren’t vaccinated or physically distancing, can have.

“Our children have been through so much since the beginning of the pandemic, including interruptions to in-person learning, not being able to see and play with their friends, and pauses in their extra-curricular activities and sports,” Chirico said.

“The last thing we want is for them to get sick with COVID-19 or to worry about their parents becoming ill with COVID-19. It’s up to us to be vaccinated to help protect them.”

He added that the COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the health unit had 28 active cases of COVID-19, with 26 in Nipissing District, including one person in hospital, and two in Parry Sound District.

Shannon Mantha, executive director of clinical services and chief nursing officer for the health unit, said many of the new cases across Nipissing District have been in the West Nipissing area.

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Over the past two weeks, she said 82.4 per cent of cases have involved close contacts of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and acquired the virus through various social settings.

Almost all of those individuals, or 94 per cent, were not fully immunized.

“I think that really, these statistics drive home the point that social gatherings that include individuals who have not been vaccinated, they put everybody at risk and, as already mentioned by Dr. Chirico, have a significant ripple effect through the entire district,” Mantha said.

The impact, she added, extends beyond those who test positive, with all close contacts required to self-isolate and potentially miss work, child care, school or time with friends and family. Household members who aren’t fully vaccinated also may only leave their homes for essential reasons, she said.

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