After a summer of low risk of COVID-19 transmission, Peterborough Public Health has moved the risk up to moderate.
However, the transmission risk of other respiratory viruses such as influenza remains low.
“We are seeing an increase in local COVID-19 indicators, including per cent positivity of PCR tests and wastewater signal,” says Peterborough’s medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott in a media release issued on Wednesday afternoon (August 30).
Dr. Piggott says an increase in respiratory virus activity is anticipated as we head into the fall, and members of the community — especially those at an increased risk for severe symptoms — should monitor the health unit’s COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index updated every Wednesday at peterboroughpublichealth.ca/covid-19-risk-index/.
“As new variants continue to emerge globally, like BA.2.86, it is important to remember that guidance for prevention of COVID-19 infections remain the same,” Dr. Piggott says, adding that the health unit is continuing to monitor dominant strains of COVID-19 in the community and will keep the public updated if there are any emerging variants of concern.
Peterborough Public Health’s director of health protection Donna Churipuy says the health unit will soon be providing guidance on fall vaccines, including COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.
“Peak circulation of both COVID-19 and influenza is expected in the fall during respiratory virus season,” Churipuy says. “Receiving both vaccinations will provide maximum protection against these viruses.”
When the Peterborough Public Health’s COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index is at the moderate risk level, the health unit recommends wearing a well-fitted KN95/N95-style face mask in high-risk indoor settings, and gathering outdoors or in spaces with proper ventilation.
The health unit also recommends that anyone who feels unwell should stay home to prevent further spread of infection and should practice respiratory etiquette, such as coughing or sneezing into your sleeves or a tissue, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and cleaning your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or with 60 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitizer.