It’s been just over two weeks since the provincial mask mandate was removed in most public settings.

While people are settling into limited COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit still wants residents to continue to be cautious.

“I continue to recommend that individuals assess personal risk and the risk of those who you gather with to determine whether you should wear a mask and practice other prevention measures,” said Young Hoon.

“I remind the public to show kindness to one another and respect others' choices during these times,” added Young Hoon

She wants to offer guidance on when and where a risk assessment should be done, and how to assess one's risk.

“That risk assessment considers what the setting is? Is it indoors versus outdoors? How closely are you coming to other people? You also want to think about yourself. What type of risk level is for you with respect to being hospitalized or severe illness.”

Young Hoon said factors that go into determining your own risk level are age, previous illnesses, and the number of vaccinations you have received.

Though cases numbers and the region's percent positivity rate has gone down, and most restrictions have been removed she says COVID-19 is still at large.

“COVID-19 is not going away, it’s here and it will be present and it will be something we learn to live with.”

As of April 6, 2022,  the NWHU is reporting 172 cases of COVID-19 – with 120 being classified as Sioux Lookout on reserve, with 17 in Kenora, and 17 in Dryden.

The region's test positivity rate is at more of a reasonable rate of 15.3 per cent, which is below the provincial average of 17.9 per cent.

On April 7, 2022, Ontario reported 1,126 patients hospitalized – the first time the count was this high since February 19, 2022. Intensive Care Unit admissions also went down slightly from 168 on Wednesday (April 6, 2022) to 159 on Thursday (April 7, 2022).

Due to the decreases in new cases, the eligibility for PCR, and access to rapid tests the NWHU will only update their website on Wednesdays, which started on April 6, 2022, to provide the most accurate data and trends on COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the Ontario government has announced it will be expanding eligibility for fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 60 and over, as well as First Nation, Inuit, and Metis individuals and their household members over 18.

Ontario says booster doses are being offered to these individuals at a recommended interval of five months after receiving their last booster, or about December 2021.