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Socializing by lockdown-weary residents keeping case count high: MOH

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Cathy Dobson

Sarnia-Lambton’s COVID-19 numbers remain stubbornly high because residents are breaking Ontario’s stay-at-home order and socializing for prolonged periods, says Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health.

“This is the third time that we’ve gone through a very substantial lockdown and I think that people are tired,” Dr. Sudit Ranade said.

“I think there’s lockdown fatigue.”

Dr. Sudit Ranade

Ranade said daily active cases have stayed above 70 because infections were soaring six weeks ago when the lockdown began and the disease requires a substantial recovery period.

No one particular age group is socializing more than others with people outside their household, but social get-togethers are the primary driver, Ranade said.

“In the grand scheme of things, not every social gathering will result in more transmission but it is what we see most commonly as a risk factor.”

Dr. Ranade urged residents to follow the stay-at-home orders, which do not allow indoor or outdoor gatherings with anyone you don’t live with, except one other person from outside of the household that lives alone.

That said, outdoor gatherings are less risky than indoor, “but you still want to keep your distance from people,” he said.

The Victoria Day long weekend will tempt people to get together for traditional summer-type activities, and that could see cases rising again, he said.

“It’s important to stress that the vast majority of people really are trying to do the right thing,” he said.

“There are always going to be people who don’t listen…but I think in general, people here are trying to do as best as they can, given that this has been going on for over a year now.”

Ranade said he hopes the stay-at-home orders are not extended beyond June 2 and that “a lot of thought and attention” are given to a gradual reopening and “how we can live through COVID.”

As of Wednesday, 16 new cases were reported in Sarnia-Lambton with 71 active cases. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,427 confirmed cases and 58 deaths.

Variants of concern are confirmed in 526 local cases. The B.1.617 variant first discovered in India has not been confirmed yet locally, Ranade said.

“But all variants are expected to show up here. That’s why prevention tools (like social distancing) are important.”

Some 51% of the eligible population 16 years and older has now received a first dose of the vaccine.

“That’s a good thing to celebrate,” he said. “I’m very happy about that.”

The eligibility age to be vaccinated in Sarnia-Lambton dropped to 12 years and older this week.


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