Reduce your COVID-19 risk during spring holidays, gatherings

Huron Perth, ON – With a sixth wave of COVID-19 underway in Ontario, including locally, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) encourages residents to observe Easter, Passover, Ramadan and other spring holidays and occasions safely.  

“These occasions are special for many people and usually involve spending time with others,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health for Huron-Perth.  “Please consider your personal health and the vulnerabilities of those around you when making plans about gatherings and holidays.  Also think about the things that you can do to reduce the risk of transmission during a gathering, such as inviting fewer people, opening windows or increasing ventilation when indoors, gathering outdoors or virtually. HPPH also strongly recommends the use of masks in all indoor public settings.”

The pandemic is not over, and the virus continues to circulate and evolve.  The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is now the dominant circulating strain of COVID-19 in Ontario and spreads very easily.  This is resulting in an increase in outbreaks in high-risk settings like long-term care, and is starting to have impacts on the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19.

Reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19

Everyone can contribute to reducing the impact of COVID-19 by continuing to layer personal protective measures, including:

  • Keeping up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations (getting all recommended doses for which you are eligible);
  • Staying home when sick, even with mild symptoms;
  • Wearing a well-fitted three-layer cloth mask or medical mask in indoor public settings;
  • Knowing your risk and whether you are eligible for early testing and treatment and having a plan to access that testing and treatment;  
  • Maintaining good ventilation in indoor spaces (for example by opening windows); and
  • Washing hands frequently

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, you are required to isolate.  Visit Ontario.ca/exposed to learn what to do.  You can also call the toll-free Provincial Testing and Isolation Information Line at 1-888-777-0730 for answers about COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance.

Expanded eligibility for COVID-19 treatment options

While not a replacement for vaccination, treatment options for COVID-19 are available and can protect against severe outcomes for certain highest risk individuals who are identified early. The province has expanded the number of higher-risk groups eligible to be tested and assessed for antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, in Ontario:

  • Individuals aged 18 and over who are immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications);
  • Individuals aged 70 and over;
  • Individuals aged 60 and over with fewer than three vaccine doses; and
  • Individuals aged 18 and over with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one risk condition (e.g., a chronic medical condition)

Anyone who is eligible for an assessment is now also eligible for a PCR test at any testing centre in Ontario.

Learn if you are eligible at Ontario.ca/antivirals.  You can also contact your health care provider or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

If you have tested negative for COVID-19 (one negative PCR test or two negative rapid antigen tests at least 24 hours apart) but are experiencing symptoms of illness, stay home until those symptoms have resolved for 24 hours, or 48 hours for vomiting and diarrhea. 

Several other viruses are circulating in Huron Perth, in addition to COVID-19, that can also lead to outbreaks in congregate settings, further stressing capacity when these settings are already stretched due to COVID-19 measures.  It is very important to avoid visiting a higher risk setting such as a long-term care or retirement home where people are more vulnerable to severe illness.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination continues to be the best defense against severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, ICU admission, and death.  It is important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations by receiving all doses recommended. “I encourage everyone eligible to get a booster dose, including people who have already had COVID-19,” says Dr. Klassen.  “Immunity decreases after a few months; it is also possible to be re-infected with the virus.”

As of April 7, 2022, individuals aged 60 and older are eligible for a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine if at least five months (140 days) have passed since their last dose. In response to the demand, HPPH has increased the number of clinic spots over April and the beginning of May. Visit www.hpph.ca/GetVaccinated for more information. COVID-19 vaccinations are also still available through select pharmacies and primary care providers.

Appointments for HPPH clinics can be booked:

  • Online at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/
  • By calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (open 7 days a week, 8 am to 8 pm), or
  • By calling the HPPH booking line at 1-833-753-2098 (open Monday-Friday 9 am to 3:30 pm)

For more information: