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Move to Grey zone an “emergency brake” to slow the rise in variant cases

Feb 28, 2021
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – The movement of Simcoe Muskoka into Grey-Lockdown on Monday is a short-term “emergency brake” intended to prevent the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic and it’s important that the community work together to overcome this risk.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – The movement of Simcoe Muskoka into Grey-Lockdown on Monday is a short-term “emergency brake” intended to prevent the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic and it’s important that the community work together to overcome this risk.

“I have heard from many people who are concerned about the impact on people’s livelihood, on their businesses, and physical and mental wellbeing, and I sympathize with them. I know that this is incredibly difficult and I sincerely wish we were not in this level of restriction,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, “However, we are seeing increases of cases and outbreaks of the UK B1.1.7 variant in Simcoe and Muskoka in workplaces, long-term care facilities, a child care centre and an apartment building. Countries that have experienced high numbers of the variants of concern have then experienced a third wave of COVID-19 and we need to act early to prevent that from happening here.”

Simcoe Muskoka has the highest number of variants of concern in Ontario. To date 184 local cases have been tested positive for the UK B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant of concern and another 290 cases have screened positive and are awaiting confirmatory testing. The variants are more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain, and result in more severe disease.

More than 60 per cent of the local COVID-19 cases screened last week were positive for a variant of concern. Active outbreaks have been trending back up since mid-February. When comparing today’s outbreak situation to one week ago, there are eight more active outbreaks (22 vs. 14) including five more workplace outbreaks (12 vs. 7) with nine of these 12 active workplace outbreaks linked to a variant of concern.

Moving into the grey zone is meant to act as an "emergency brake" to help stop the spread of the virus, protect public health and health system capacity in the regions. Dr. Gardner is monitoring the health data closely so that he can advise the province to lift the restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.

For more information, visit or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional, weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) or at www.smdhu.org.

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