The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is closing its three offices to the public after the provincial government announced on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 it was declaring a State of Emergency in Ontario.
The provincial emergency and Stay-at-Home order goes into effect at 12:01 am Thursday, April 8 and is to last four weeks.
During that time, staff from the HKPR District Health will continue to provide services to members of the public, including the operation of mass immunization vaccination clinics in Northumberland County, the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton County, COVID case investigation and follow-up, and outbreak management. As well, Health Unit staff continue to support harm reduction programs, some environmental health programs, and some programs in place to support families and children.
“Although our physical locations may close, our staff will continue their work to support and help our residents,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit.
While the HKPR region is not seeing the same volume of cases as some parts of the province, Dr. Bocking says there has been a troubling increase in the number of local cases.
“We may not be considered a hot spot for cases, but I am concerned by the increase in the number of cases we have been seeing locally,” she says. “We are hearing stories of people gathering, not quarantining if they have been identified as a high-risk contact, and travelling for non-essential reasons. Unfortunately, these actions, coupled with the variants of concern that are now circulating, are leading to increased cases in our area.”
The province announced yesterday that individuals born in 1961 or earlier are now eligible to book vaccination appointments through the provincial booking system (www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or 1-888-999-6488). Last week, the province also announced the expansion of the pharmacy vaccination program to include local pharmacies. The Health Unit, together with its many health partners, is vaccinating residents and is offering vaccination clinics in Haliburton County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County.
“There are a number of options now available to residents who are eligible to be vaccinated under the provincial plan,” Dr. Bocking says. “I would urge eligible individuals to visit the provincial booking system to continue to look for appointments. Some of our larger clinics may fill up quickly, but I know we have a number of appointments available in the north throughout the month of April.”
It is Dr. Bocking’s hope that vaccinations, coupled with the newly imposed Stay-at-Home order will help turn the tide against this virus.
“I know we are all tired and experiencing pandemic fatigue,” she says, “but we need to work together just a little while longer in the hope that we can get this virus under control and start to see some normalcy in our lives.”