The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) returned to the orange “restrict” level of the province’s colour-coded COVID response framework on Tuesday. The orange zone permitted the resumption of indoor dining, with capacity limits of 50 patrons, and a maximum of four people to a table. Nonessential retailers were also allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Supermarkets, pharmacies and grocer restrictions remained at 50 percent capacity.
The reopening followed a steep decline in the number of active and new COVID cases in the EOHU in early January. As of Tuesday, 117 cases were active in the region, compared to 695 on January 11. Only 111 new cases had been reported so far in February, compared to 854 for the whole of January.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the trends were headed in the right direction, but said he was in “no hurry” to see restrictions eased further, due to the risk of more infectious variants spreading across the province.
“I’m not that anxious to change,” he said. “At this point, we’re in orange… and I’d stress the importance of staying home whenever you can, keeping physical distance, and using masks. That’s very important, because the cases multiply very quickly with these new variants.”
Another three trays of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, enough for up to 3300 doses, were due to arrive in the region this week. Another four trays will be delivered next week.
All residents at Prescott-Russell long-term care homes had received their second dose of the vaccine, except for those at the Prescott and Russell Residence. The first dose of the vaccine was also administered to residents of some retirement homes in the region, including Manoir Carillon in Chute-à-Blondeau and Caledonia Manor in Saint-Isidore.
Dr. Roumeliotis said first doses would be administered to staff and essential care workers at long-term care and retirement homes, as well as patients who were preparing to enter long-term care. “We’re well on our way, and we’re continuing with the highest priority healthcare workers,” he said.
Outbreaks continued at Valoris-211 Russell Road in Cheney, Manoir Carillon in Chute-à-Blondeau, and Centre d’Accueil Roger-Seguin in Clarence Creek. Most outbreaks were limited to staff cases, with no residents affected.
No outbreaks had been reported in the region’s schools. One student case was reported at École secondaire publique Le Sommet in Hawkesbury.
Sixteen people were hospitalized, with one in intensive care. Most of the patients were in Ottawa and Cornwall, while one was at the Hawkesbury General Hospital.
Of the 20 new cases reported in the EOHU over the long weekend, six were recorded in Prescott-Russell. Twenty-six of the 117 active cases in the EOHU were in Prescott-Russell communities, including 6 in Clarence-Rockland, 5 in Champlain, 5 in Hawkesbury, 4 in Russell, 3 in Alfred-Plantagenet, and 1 each in Casselman, East Hawkesbury, and The Nation.