The Health Units are asking everyone to limit their indoor social gatherings to no more than 10 people, all fully vaccinated over the age of 12 for the holidays.
The letter is signed by Medical Officers of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen for Huron Perth, Dr. Joyce Lock for SWPH and acting medical officer of health for London Middlesex Dr. Alex Summers.
The Health Units are not implementing any further restrictions for the holidays. They are asking residents to be cautious in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. The letter is in response to increased case loads in all three regions and the presence of the Omicron variant.
The Health Units recommend the following over the holidays:
- Everyone should limit indoor social gatherings in private dwellings to no more than 10 people. All attendees 12 years of age and older should be vaccinated.
- All unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older should avoid any non-essential indoor contact with individuals who are not part of their household.
- Where possible, individuals should work remotely.
These recommendations take effect immediately and will be reassessed in four weeks. The Medical Officers of Health also want to reiterate that the best way to avoid becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is to get fully vaccinated.
The recommendation for unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older is included as the risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection is much higher in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals compared to vaccinated
individuals. While breakthrough cases may occur in vaccinated people, they tend to be milder with a much lower risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death.
Dr. Summers says they understand people are fed up with COVID-19.
"We know people are tired, but we hope they'll understand why we're asking them to take extra steps to prevent further spread, especially as we approach the holidays. We know
that this means adjusting plans, which is a big ask, but the number of new cases and the arrival of the Omicron variant have shown we can't let our guard down."
Dr. Lock is encouraging more people to get vaccinated.
"So many of those from our region have embraced vaccination and the other public health measures we've asked of them. This is a reminder that a layered approach is required. We can't rely on vaccination alone. As our socializing is primarily happening indoors right now, we need multiple strategies in place at once."
Dr. Klassen is worried about the recent spike in cases.
"We continue to see a steady stream of new cases in Huron-Perth, and many are associated with social gatherings and events. The more contacts you have, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading to you or your
loved ones, including the vulnerable. Following these three recommendations will help keep community members as safe as possible during the holiday season and into January."
In recent weeks, the three health units have seen higher transmission of the virus and COVID19 outbreaks in multiple settings, including schools, childcare centres, long-term care, and retirement homes.