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February 3, 2021
The controversial COVID lockdown measures imposed by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit appear to be effective, as the region sits at six active cases following a record-month of new cases in January.
There were 61 new cases of COVID in the region last month, but most occurred near the start of January. Since Jan. 20, there have been eight new cases for a total of 194. Of those, only six remain active, five active in the Nipissing District and one in Parry Sound.
The low rate of transmission in the region has only renewed calls from locals to reopen public skating rinks, tobogganing hills and Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ (OFSC) trails, after the health unit ordered they be closed on Jan. 14 and 21 respectively. Many people have voiced frustration over the fact that neighbouring health units have kept these outdoor recreation facilities open, while local ones have been closed.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico addressed some of those concerns in an online Q&A session on Jan. 29.
“The decision to impose additional closures was based on the risk of transmission. We received many verbal and written complaints about snowmobilers congregating, not following public health measures and of individuals from areas with more cases of COVID-19 coming into our district,” he explained. Consultation was done with local law enforcement to determine the validity of the complaints. “The goal is to prevent transmission before it happens. Just south of us, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has experienced a tragic outbreak of the UK COVID variant, which is highly contagious. We need to take extra precautions, now more than ever, to prevent the spread into our district. When people make the choices to leave our district for non-essential reasons, such as skating, tobogganing or snowmobiling, they are putting their non-essential pleasure over the health and safety of our family, friends and loved ones in our district. In contrast to not being able to snowmobile, skate or slide during the winter, what would truly be intolerable would be having a loved one in hospital due to COVID-19 and not being able to visit them.”