Respiratory illnesses continue downward trend: higher risks remain for some peopleIssued: Monday, April 17, 2023
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is setting its COVID-19 Risk Index & Respiratory Activity Report to “inactive” status this week. Public Health continually assesses local risk based on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advancement of scientific understanding. Major factors in the decision to set the risk index tool to “inactive” at this time include declining trends in respiratory illness, increased population immunity from vaccination or infection, reduced severity of illness, and the improved capacity to manage new waves or surges in COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses.
“We launched the risk index tool in the summer of 2022 to help people make informed decisions about their own protective measures, such as masking or gathering, particularly when disease trends were on the rise,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “Public Health’s primary goal is to protect our communities’ health, particularly among more vulnerable people. As we exit the annual respiratory virus season and enter spring with promising downward illness trends, it’s important to remember that some people are still at higher risk of severe illness. You can protect yourself and others by knowing your own personal health risks and taking steps that are right for you to reduce your risk of infection and severe illness,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.
Public Health follows best practices and recommendations for infection prevention and control (IPAC). In settings that provide care to vulnerable individuals, like long-term care homes and hospitals, IPAC measures remain in place. Setting the COVID-19 Risk Index & Respiratory Activity Report to “inactive” is part of our ongoing efforts to adapt and respond to the evolving situation in our service area while continuing to help ensure the well-being of community members. If necessary, Public Health may reactivate the tool during times of increased risk, for example, to get through a difficult respiratory virus season.
Public Health monitors respiratory disease activity, including COVID-19 and influenza through continuous surveillance. Data on COVID-19 cases, testing, and outbreaks will continue to be published three times a week at phsd.ca/covid-19/data. The Weekly report: COVID-19 case epidemiology and vaccination program update is also updated weekly on Wednesdays.
Individuals in the community can continue to adopt behaviours to reduce their own personal risks. Vaccination is the most effective way to remain protected and those at high risk of severe illness should book an appointment for their next COVID-19 booster dose this spring. Use Ontario’s Booster dose recommendation tool to find out when you should get a booster dose. Apply personal protective measures based on your age, and vaccination and health status, such as masking and staying home when ill. Consider the risk of those around you and increase precautions based on your health and environment to reduce the burden of illness in our communities.
For more information on respiratory illness and personal protective measures, visit phsd.ca or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).