Sudbury should be in the red zone, health unit says as cases surge, COVID variant emerges
SUDBURY -- Following the biggest single-day surge of COVID cases on Monday, the medical officer of health in Greater Sudbury says the city should be in the red zone, judging by the numbers alone.
In the last seven days, there have been 85 new COVID-19 cases in the area covered by Public Health Sudbury & Districts, including 32 on Monday. Another 12 cases were announced Tuesday afternoon, when the health unit announced another COVID-related death.
"By the numbers, we would be at least in the red zone right now and we'll have to see how that evolves in the next few days," Dr. Penny Sutcliffe told reporters in Sudbury on Tuesday during a videoconference.
Sutcliffe said the decision to change the status is made at Queen's Park, in consultation with the chief medical officer of health and the local health unit, and is usually announced on Fridays, and take effect the following Monday.
But she said the number of cases is not the only factor – the capacity of the healthcare system is also taken into account.
"So I will absolutely be having an opportunity to engage, as we do on a weekly basis, with the chief medical officer of health to describe kind of the characteristics, or the feel what's happening in our community, and what the concerns you might have for the for the future."
Greater Sudbury is currently in the orange-restrict zone. Moving to the red-control zone would mean more stringent measures, stopping short of a grey designation, which is a full lockdown.
Sutcliffe also told reporters that 28 COVID cases have been determined or appear to be one of the more contagious variants that have spread across the world. Of those, the source of infection of four of the variant cases have not been traced, she said.
“We all need to heed the alarm that this news is sounding,” Sutcliffe said in a news release issued later Tuesday. “With this surge in cases, our community is also experiencing outbreaks in schools and in settings where people are vulnerable. We must see it as our mission-critical right now to protect each other while Public Health and partners work to get vaccines in arms.
'We have only just begun'
"We have only just begun our vaccination journey. In the meantime, saving lives and preventing serious illness will mean ongoing commitment to staying home as much as possible, distancing, masking, and testing when ill. We are not out of the woods yet – we must act now to reverse this very troubling trend.”
The health unit is monitoring a number of outbreaks in various institutional, community, congregate care, and school settings, including a large multi-unit dwelling.
"Public Health has notified those who are involved directly with outbreaks, as we always do," the release said. "Public Health does not publicly report community outbreaks if we are able to identify and contact all affected individuals. Regardless of setting, activity, or situation, everyone is reminded to continue to screen themselves for symptoms and practise COVID-safe behaviours, including continuing to be patient and kind."
While many details of local vaccination plans are still up in the air, Sutcliffe said more detailed information should be available in the coming days.
"In addition to highest priority healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, upcoming groups that will be eligible for vaccine include Indigenous adults (Métis, Inuit and First Nations), very high priority health care workers, adults 80 years of age and older, adult recipients of chronic home care, and residents and staff of congregate care settings for seniors," the release said.
For more information, visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call the health unit at 1-705-522-9200, toll-free 1-866-522-9200.