Leadership within the Northwestern Health Unit says that COVID-19 data and trends are staying fairly steady week-to-week, as the province is well into the 6th wave of the virus.

During her bi-weekly conference with regional media members, Medical Officer of Health for the NWHU, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says hospitalizations have remained somewhat stable recently.

“The number of hospitalizations has not seen a substantial change over the last few weeks, which better represents the impact the virus has on our region and our residents,” says Young Hoon.

The NWHU's latest weekly hospitalization update showed only 4 new people in the hospital due to COVID-19. She did want to note that the statistics involved in their data only include people who are eligible for and have received a PCR test.

“This does not mean the risk of COVID-19 in our communities is low, as there are many people who are positive on rapid tests and are not captured in our data.”

As of April 27, 2022, the health unit’s seven-day test positivity rate is 15.1 per cent, which is just above the provincial average of 13.9 per cent. The NWHU is reporting that as of April 27, 2022, there are 151 active COVID-19 cases in their catchment area. Kenora is reported to have 29, Dryden 9, Sioux Lookout on reserve 87, and Sioux Lookout off-reserve has 11 cases.

Public Health Ontario confirmed the province had entered the sixth wave of the pandemic in the middle of April, driven by the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron. Their report warned that in-person learning could be disrupted and mask mandates could return if a new COVID-19 variant emerges.

“We haven’t seen the same image that is kind of playing out in some of the health units in southern Ontario, where there was a definite decrease and then an increase again for the 6th wave. Now our decrease has not been as much as other regions, we didn’t get the decline that other regions have seen. We’re also not seeing that surge that other health units saw.”

“At this point, the data just generally indicates that COVID-19 is circulating, the risk is there, and people need to be aware of that risk. The concepts of the 6th wave are not as clear with our epidemiology.”

Young Hoon notes that containment or eliminating COVID-19 outright is not possible, and still says that getting vaccinated is still the best defense against the virus.

“Booster doses are effective and help prevent hospitalizations, and death and I urge residents to stay up to date on their COVID vaccinations.”

Eligible individuals are now able to book their fourth dose appointment through the Northwestern Health Unitparticipating pharmacies, and participating primary care settings.

If residents are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, Young Hoon recommends continuing to wear a mask in public spaces, staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods, being active, getting enough sleep, and washing their hands before touching their faces to protect themselves.