COVID-19: New recommendations to curb spread

The medical officers of health for three local health units are recommending limiting indoor gatherings, avoiding non-essential indoor contact for the unvaccinated and that everyone work remotely if possible.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Dr. Alex Summers, Southwestern Public Health’s Dr. Joyce Lock and Huron Perth Public Health’s Dr. Miriam Klassen issued the joint Letter of Recommendation for the upcoming holiday season on Thursday.

The recommendations are driven by rising case counts and the arrival of the Omicron variant in the region, as well as concerns about the impact of rising cases on the health care system.

In the London region, four Omicron cases have been confirmed as part of a cluster of 50 cases that involves 18 families, seven schools, two child care centres and a church.

Summers added, “We are also investigating potential Omicron cases that are not linked to this cluster, including at least one individual who screened positive for Omicron but did not travel and is not linked to a traveler.”

The goal of the recommendations is to “reduce opportunities for transmission before our health care system is overwhelmed,” according to a media release.

Klassen explained, “We continue to see a steady number of cases, often a rising number of cases, and the more transmission of the virus occurs, the higher the likelihood that we’re going to have to close, that there will be outbreaks and possible closures in settings like schools and workplaces and other settings.”

The focus is largely on private gatherings and indoor environments with December being a peak time for get-togethers amongst households.

The recommendations include:

  • Everyone should limit indoor social gatherings in private dwellings to no more than 10 people. All attendees 12 years of age and older should be vaccinated.
  • All unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older should avoid any non-essential indoor contact with individuals who are not part of their household.
  • Where possible, individuals should work remotely.

Health officials added that while those who are vaccinated do get sick, “the illness experienced is shorter in duration and much less severe. Unvaccinated individuals are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and at a higher risk of experiencing severe health outcomes when they do become infected.”

But as Lock explained, “Vaccines alone cannot do all the work, a layered approach to applying public health measures is required, hence the recommendations we’ve issued today.”

In addition, officials report there have been more than 200 workplace outbreaks across southwestern Ontario in just the past week.

The recommendations take effect immediately and are expected to be reassessed in four weeks.

The letter does not add restrictions or gathering limits for businesses, restaurants or other establishments.

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