Due to a significant rate of COVID-19 within their staff, leadership with the Dryden Regional Health Centre is moving into Level 4 – RED CONTROL – of their COVID-19 pandemic plan.

New measures include limiting patients to only 1 designated essential visitor who must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must pass entrance screening requirements before entry.

Staff say additional measures are being considered at this time, such as ramping down services.

“Even though many restrictions have been relaxed in Ontario, we implore community members to continue following public health recommendations such as masking in public places, physical distancing and staying home when feeling ill, as we know these are the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19,” wrote President and CEO, Doreen Armstrong-Ross.

“Protecting our vulnerable patients and staff remains DRHC’s top priority. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we navigate these challenges,” she adds.

The NDP has been lobbying the government to increase supports for northern hospitals after a shortage of physicians and locums closed Red Lake’s emergency room late last month.

Across Ontario as of April 6, there were 1,074 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 778 one week ago, with 46 per cent being initially hospitalized specifically for COVID-19. Intensive Care Unit admissions also went up slightly from 165 to 168.

In the Northwestern Health Unit’s catchment area, staff report a total of 172 active cases with 120 in Sioux Lookout on-reserve cases, 17 cases in Dryden and 17 cases in the Kenora area.

For the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, staff are reporting a total of 318 active cases across their catchment area, which includes 30 First Nation communities in the far north. Previous outbreaks in their area have since slowed.