Interim Medical Officer of Health officially on the job in Windsor-Essex

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Monday's weekly COVID-19 news update was the first opportunity for interim Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai to address the Windsor-Essex community.

Dr. Nesathurai spoke about limiting the spread of COVID-19, as well as what schools are doing to adapt to early COVID-19 cases and anti-vaccine demonstrations.

In terms of limiting COVID-19 cases, he says vaccines continue to be the best way to get out of the pandemic.

"If they're vaccinated they're less likely to contract COVID, and if they do they're likely to have a more mild form of the disease and they're a lot less likely to be admitted to the hospital and suffer the adverse consequences," says Dr. Nesathurai.

One of the big stories in the community right now is the amount of students sent home from school due to positive COVID-19 cases popping up.

Dr. Nesathurai says all the different options remain available as they continue to navigate the pandemic, but he's hopeful they can continue to keep schools open going forward.

"From my perspective one of the most important public health goals is to try and keep the instructional component of school opening. Meaning that it's particularly important as a public health priority to allow young people to go to school and get instruction from their teachers," he says.

Dr. Nesathurai also talked about anti-vaccine protests that have been taking place at some hospitals and health cares centres in the province.

He says as a public health service they welcome dialogue and believe in free speech, but it's going to take greater community buy-in on the vaccine message to get through the pandemic.

"We accept that people have disagreements with public policy and public health policy but we also ask the community to support us on the public health mission. The people working the public health service and other health services are working diligently to try and bring COVID under control," he says.

Dr. Nesathurai is replacing former Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed on an interim basis, as Dr. Ahmed is headed for Toronto where he will be the province's new associate chief medical officer of health effective Oct. 1.