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COVID-19 transmission in Simcoe Muskoka 'concerning' to local health unit

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Simcoe Muskoka's chief medical officer of health is concerned by the high rate of COVID-19 transmission in the region since the province lifted restrictions and mask mandates.

"We have seen elevated case counts," stated Dr. Charles Gardner during a briefing Tuesday. "The pandemic is not over, and we cannot let our guard down."

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reports a steady increase of COVID-19 through case counts, outbreaks, hospitalizations and wastewater analysis since March 21, when restrictions were removed.

The health unit said that while an increase was expected after the province lifted measures, Simcoe Muskoka cases have "sharply risen," with 1,282 cases reported the week of April 3 - 79 per cent higher than reported in the weeks before March 21.

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The SMDHU reports the region had a higher incidence rate of COVID-19 cases compared to the province in the first week of April.

"The number of cases, outbreaks and hospitalizations we are seeing in Simcoe Muskoka is very concerning," Dr. Gardner noted.

With the Easter long weekend days away, the public is urged to avoid large gatherings.

"It is important to remember that knowing someone does not reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19," the SMDHU noted, promoting virtual gatherings or outdoor events.

"Virtual gatherings or events are still the safest way to celebrate, and if you opt to host or attend a gathering or event, remember that outdoor gatherings are safer than those held indoors."

The health unit also encourages wearing a well-fitted mask when in contact with those outside your household.

"With provincial restrictions no longer in place, I also continue to strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask in all indoor public spaces as a simple way to prevent the spread of the virus. It is up to each of us as individuals to help slow the spread of this sixth wave by taking these and other personal precautions," Dr. Gardner said.

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