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Easing of restrictions require more diligent social distancing, Hirji says

Second wave of COVID-19 could emerge as parks and some shops open up in the area
Dr. Mustafa Hirji says easing the restrictions requires diligent social distancing. Photo: Thorold News archive

Niagara Public Health report success in the fight against COVID-19 inside the regions retirement- and long-term care facilities.

On Tuesday the stubborn outbreak at Seasons Welland, that has been ongoing since late March was declared over after no new cases emerged during a two-week period.

Royal Rose in Welland and Lundy Manor in Niagara Falls are still on the list, but acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji said new cases has ceased to emerge in the manner that they did before.

On Wednesday the region reported five new cases of COVID-19 in Niagara, putting the total at 620 of which 458 have recovered.

58 people have died after contracting the virus - primarily residents of care facitilies.

Although a handful of new outbreaks were declared over the past week at facilities in Lincoln, Grimsby and St Catharines as well as Fort Erie, Hirji said some of them could be false positives after another round of increased testing was carried out.

“We are a little suspicious due to the lack of symptoms and other evidence of an infection, but it is better to be safe than sorry,” said Hirji.

As the outbreaks settle to a significantly lower level than that of a few weeks ago, Hirji and his team are keeping a close eye on the effects of the easing of some restrictions, such as re-opening of provincial parks and sports fields as well as certain stores.

“It is a difficult communication challenge, and we want to emphasize that there is a lot of risk out there. It will never be zero. We should be doing nice things outside, but we need to do it with physical distancing in mind.”

Hirji urged continued hand-washing and monitoring of symptoms - even mild ones, like a runny nose.

“People want to return to normal, but I am afraid that it is something we can’t do. The infection has not gone away,” said Hirji.