The Northwestern Health Unit’s, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon speaking at The Rotary Club of Dryden’s virtual meeting on Wednesday left four key pieces of information with those in attendance.
 
 
 

1. NWO and Dryden may be the safest areas to live in during this pandemic in Ontario

Young Hoon began with three dynamic charts on the number of cases since the pandemic began in early 2020.
 
Ontario shows two gigantic waves with the current second wave even worse than the first even though the Province is still in Stage 2. As of Oct. 23rd Ontario has had 67.527 cases and 3,071 deaths.
 
 
The second chart shows that Manitoba, by contrast got off lightly until the second wave hit. During the first wave small town Manitoba got hit but Winnipeg largely got spared. The brunt of the second wave in contrast has primarily occurred in Winnipeg as the numbers reveal. As of 9:30 on October 23rd., Manitoba has reported 3,773 cases and 47 deaths.
 
 
Northwestern Ontario so far has largely escaped any spike in the number of cases. To date in 2020 the region has only had 70 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 14 in the Dryden-Red Lake sub-area.
 
 
Young Hoon described how there has been no clustering either by geography or time in the region. She also reported that more than 33,000 tests had been conducted locally but that was a distortion of the overall number of people in the region tested because many people were tested as many as four or five times.
 
So when I compare the three charts my first take-away is: there is, so far at least, no place I would want to be during a pandemic, other than Northwestern Ontario.
 

2. The NWHU will inform us if a spike occurs in the City of Dryden

The second takeaway is captured well by CKDR’s Sarah McCarthy in her report “Health Unit Addresses Why Dryden/Red Lake Are Grouped Together.”  As Young Hoon explains in Sarah’s report the issue is one of maintaining privacy of individuals in our small communities. But the important piece was illustrated by Young Noon’s explanation of the spike of 10 cases at the end of September clearly visible on the chart. Of those 10 cases 9 occurred in Kenora and Kenora which is also a very large area (for details on each of the 4 areas scroll to the bottom of this page). It is reassuring to know that if Dryden experiences a spike, its citizens will be informed

3. Our schools mimic the safety of our region with no reported cases

Young Hoon spent considerable time reporting on our schools. “The boards have been planning all summer for the safe return of the children, “she said.
 
 
School closures were very hard on the mental and physical health of our children, especially as the length of the closure got longer and longer according the Young Hoon.  Provincially, there was much confusion among parents.
To date according to a report in The Toronto Star, none of our five school boards in the NWHU’s geographic area has reported a positive case among our children in any school.
 

4. This isn’t over and we must continue our vigilance as we enter the holiday season when our family bubble is most likely to be affected.

Looking ahead Young Noon described the need for ongoing surveillance and monitoring. She talked about our increased ability to cluster in bars and restaurants. She described how we had to be prepared to manage another outbreak in Long Term Care Homes, shelters and schools.

Young Noon said, “The NWHU gets about 200 calls per week” on the Covid 19 issue. She also described how to prepare for Halloween. “Everyone both children and adults should wear a mask, and keep the 2 metre distance,” she advised. Also, if you are sick, in any way, don’t participate.
 
In closing Young Noon reminded everyone of these five key preventive measures. Plus, she told us to get our flu shots.
 

 
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