Slow and cautious.  

That’s the approach Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health, would like to see the province take on easing restrictions.  

During the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s media conference Thursday morning, which took place less than two hours before the Premier’s announcement, Dr. Chirico said they had yet to receive official word on what restrictions would be loosened.  

“In general, what I can say is that I’m not in favour of loosening restrictions at this time.  I think we need to be very mindful of our past experience and move slowly and cautiously, especially with the recent return to school,” he says. 

Dr. Chirico says easing restrictions increases the risk of increasing contacts and the potential for community spread. 

“Yes, it is a matter of balancing risk. However, our healthcare system is still under pressure and this week in Ontario we have seen our hospital occupancy increase by 20 percent,” he says. “Locally, we are seeing increasing outbreaks in congregate settings. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and pushed to the limit and they’ve been doing this for a long time. Absenteeism rates have increased in many sectors among healthcare workers, so it’s very concerning.” 

Dr. Chirico also says hospital beds are at a premium and there has been an increase in the number of cases of people dying in our area.