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Simcoe Muskoka’s top doctor recommends getting third shot as best protection against Omicron variant

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The active COVID-19 case count in Muskoka has jumped up by 40 to 263.

It comes as the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is reporting 50 new cases of the virus. Breaking that down, 19 of the new cases are in Huntsville, 18 in Bracebridge, 11 in Gravenhurst, and one each in Georgian Bay and Muskoka Lakes.

One person remains in hospital.

As the calendar turns to a new year, SMDHU’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner says the last two weeks of 2021 saw jumps in the amount of COVID cases in Muskoka. Compared to a week ago, cases locally are up 51-percent. However, put into perspective, there has been a 91-percent jump in cases in neighbouring Simcoe County and a 171-percent jump Ontario-wide this week when compared to last, according to Gardner. 

He didn’t provide a breakdown by region, but Gardner said in his weekly briefing Friday that 94-percent of new cases popping up in SMDHU’s medical region is the Omicron variant. Gardner said the new cases tend to be in people under 60 with the majority of outbreaks at schools and congregate living settings. 

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With that in mind, he said everyone needs to get in line to get a third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. “There is evidence that two doses provides protection against hospital amidation, but not very high with regards to prevention of transmission,” he said.

Friday marks the first day of the province’s shift to prioritizing getting tests in the hands of the most vulnerable. 

“For every one case you know of, there’s an unknown number of cases that are in the community that don’t have symptoms or didn’t come forward to get tested,” Gardner said when asked about how trustworthy the health unit’s daily COVID reporting will be now with the testing change. He added that’s been the case since the beginning of the pandemic. 

He said to find the most accurate number, they will have to take into account things like hospital capacity and test positivity.

New isolation requirements have also been put in place by the province. Garnder said this means it’s likely health officials will not be getting in touch with you if you test positive and the responsibility will be on you to follow the self-isolation guidelines set by the province.

“Now is the time to really take a close look at your risks and the ways in which you can get exposed, or the ways in which it can be brought into the household, and what you can do to reduce that risk,” Garnder said to finish off his briefing.

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