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SMDHU top doctor issues special statement urging continued health measures

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Simcoe Muskoka's chief medical officer of health is "urging residents" to continue to follow COVID-19 health measures despite the recent lifting of several restrictions and mask mandates.

"We are still experiencing a substantial amount of COVID-19 transmission in our communities, and there is the potential for some increase in transmission in the weeks to come," stated Dr. Charles Gardner in a press release.

The region's top doctor noted that easing restrictions doesn't mean the pandemic has ended.

In the special statement issued on Wednesday, Dr. Gardner wrote that after two years of the pandemic, "we are now experiencing a dramatic shift in the province's response."

Read the complete statement here.

Still, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) continues to push for vaccination, plus masking, physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when ill.

"Omicron variant is still very much present and can occur even amongst those vaccinated, although this risk is reduced with a primary series and booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine," SMDHU stated in the release.

Dr. Gardner would like to see more people get the booster shot, as less than half of those eligible have rolled up their sleeves for the dose.

"A booster dose does help to reduce the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and transmitting to others."

SMDHU also promotes vaccination for children aged five to 11 to "protect them at school and extracurricular activities."

The province lifted the mask mandate on Monday, except for high-risk settings, such as long-term care homes, health care settings, and public transit.

Some businesses may choose to continue to require patrons to wear a face mask.

Dr. Gardner foresees increased COVID-19 transmission in the fall and winter months, along with "new and potentially more transmissible variants of concern of COVID-19" that could arise "at any point."

Still, the medical officer noted that warmer weather brings a reduced risk of transmission with more people spending time outdoors.

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