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Second wave of COVID-19 on the rise

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

As COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise, Durham Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Kyle urges caution from residents.

Over the last few days, Ontario has seen more than 400 cases of positive COVID-19 tests on multiple occasions, and the province has once again restricted gathering limits to 10 people indoors, and 25 outdoors.

To Kyle the rise in numbers means Ontario’s second wave has begun.

“Think of a wave. It crests and it falls, and I think there’s been a consistent rise in the number of cases over the past week,” he says.

Kyle and his colleagues are learning as the pandemic goes, and he says he doesn’t know if there are “ripples at the top of the wave,” how steep the wave is, or how high it will go.

“We’re definitely entering the second wave, whatever shape or form it takes,” he says.

He believes there are a number of reasons for the rise in cases, including the return to school for students, teachers, and school staff.

“I think it’s related to a return to school, child care, postsecondary institutions,” he says.

However, he reminds residents that at the beginning of the first wave, the spread began because of travel to Europe, China, and the United States.

“From there, the disease was seeded into long-term care homes, retirement homes, that sort of thing,” he explains.

Since then, the economy has reopened, and community transmission is the culprit, he says.

“I suspect that things will get worse before they get better, and of course we need to be mindful that as the weather gets colder, people will be tending to spend more time indoors, and potentially in crowded situations,” he says.

Kyle says his recommendations to residents remain the same as they were during the first wave: wash hands, physical and social distancing, environmental cleaning, respiratory etiquette, and wear a masks.

“I sound like a broken record, but people need to remain vigilant. They need to follow public health advice,” he says.

He understands many are experiencing “pandemic fatigue” right now, but he notes the pandemic hasn’t come to an end, and he says it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Right now Durham Region has surpassed 2,000 total cases, with 86 active cases. Oshawa itself has 11 total cases at the time of writing.

Regional Chair John Henry released a statement regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases, saying it is a cause for concern and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

He believes this is no time to become complacent.

“We must continue to follow best public health practices as much as possible to mitigate the effects of another large spike in cases,” he says. “Please respect the new social gathering limits. Stay home if you’re sick. Prioritize your trips out of the house. Wash your hands often. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in all indoor, enclosed public spaces and maintain six feet of physical distance.”