Dr. Natalie Bocking /Photo supplied

MOH urges public to stay at home for the holidays

The local medical officer of health is asking residents to give the best gift possible this holiday season – the gift of staying home and isolating if they are ill.

“This is the best gift you can give to family, friends and neighbours,” says Dr. Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “If everyone who has symptoms stayed home this holiday season, they would help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that others did not get ill as well.”

With the highly contagious Omicron variant now the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating in the province, Dr. Bocking is urging everyone who has symptoms, even mild ones, to assume they have COVID-19 and stay home.

With Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) difficult to find and appointments for PCR tests hard to come by at this time, Dr. Bocking says people with symptoms instead just need to assume they are ill with COVID, stay home and isolate from others. If someone does receive a positive result on a rapid test, they should also take that as a confirmation they have COVID and follow the protocols for a confirmed


“With the high number of cases we are seeing locally, we know this virus is circulating and that if someone has symptoms, they probably have COVID,” she says. “Don’t take a chance and spread it to others while you try and get a PCR test appointment. It may be difficult to stay home and isolate at this time of year, but protecting others is the best gift you can give this holiday season.”

There have been 145 confirmed cases of COVID reported locally in the last two days, and with assessment centres fully booked, Dr. Bocking says it is safe to assume there are other cases in the community that are not being reported.

If you are ill, Dr. Bocking urges you to:

• Isolate at your home and do not leave unless it is for medical care.

• Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and if they worsen, seek immediate medical attention or call 9-1-1.

• Notify anyone you had contact with in the two days prior to your symptoms starting or receiving a positive test result. The health unit has a letter on its website (www.hkpr.on.ca) that can be provided to high-risk contacts.

• When you isolate at home, stay in a separate room, use a separate bathroom if you have one, wash your hands often with soap and water, wear a mask over your nose, mouth and chin if you can’t stay two metres apart from others in your home, and do NOT allow visitors into your home.

“Not everyone who gets COVID will become really ill, but some will, and our goal is to try and keep people out of the hospital,” Dr. Bocking says. “This is a horrible time of year for us to ask people to do this and we know people have been looking forward to getting together with family and friends. COVID does not take a holiday though and unfortunately we need to work together one more time to stop the spread.”

More information on what to do if you are ill with COVID symptoms (positive case) or have been identified as a high-risk contact of someone who is ill can be found on the health unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca.

submitted by the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit