COVID-19: KFL&A Public Health restricts household gatherings to 10 people

KFL&A Public Health is implementing gathering limits of 10 people in private households to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingston region. Megan King / CKWS TV

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health for the KFL&A region in Ontario, has implemented gathering restrictions on private dwellings to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

The new order comes as Oglaza announced 32 new cases added Friday, bringing active cases to another all-time high of 267.

Read more: What’s driving COVID-19 cases in the Kingston region?

“At this point, I have not seen signs of the case counts plateauing or moving past the peak and going down,” he said in a press briefing Friday.

The medical officer of health says a new Section 22 order that limits gatherings in households to 10 people only will take effect Nov. 27 at 12:01 a.m.

Oglaza did not give an end date for the order, and said it’s unclear if it will be lifted before the holidays begin.

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Currently, the region sits in the province’s “red zone” from its old colour framework — as of Friday, the colour-code metric will once again appear on the local COVID-19 dashboard.

Oglaza said the order will only be rescinded when he sees cases declining.

“If we start moving in that positive direction towards orange, yellow, this is the time where this order will be revisited, whether or not that occurs throughout December, it’s unknown at this time,” he said.

Still, Oglaza noted that the region has a chance to get things under control before the holiday season, which is exactly why he’s implementing the new class order about a month before the holidays.

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He also noted that he will be monitoring cases throughout the next month to see if further restrictions will be necessary.

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Currently, about 50 per cent of cases are being transmitted in household settings, but, Oglaza confirmed that the initial exposure for those households is often coming from somewhere unknown in the community.

Still, he added that contact tracing has shown that places where there are proof of vaccination and masking requirements are not contributing to the spread in a significant way, so he’s stopping short of traditional community-wide restrictions previously used, which he says may not be effective.

“In terms of additional restrictions on that community level, these would have to be designed very carefully to address where we see the risk and not to impact in types of settings, locations and activities that have not been proven to result in this spread,” he said.

For now, Oglaza is hoping that this new order, along with other actions he’s taken to further screen school-aged children, along with the opening up of vaccines to the five-to-11 age group, will help tamp down the near meteoric rise in local cases ahead of the holidays.

“What it is addressing is that understanding that we are in the middle of the fourth wave and we have to alter our behavior,” Oglaza said.

Additional stipulations of the class order will require anyone hosting a private gathering to keep a list of names and contact information for guests, which should be available to KFL&A Public Health upon request within 24 hours.

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The order also says those hosting gatherings must be able to provide other information to the health unit for the purposes of contact tracing.

Failure to comply with the order will result in fines of up to $5,000 for every day or part of each day the offence occurs.

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