Dr. Gandhi urges students to socially distance and avoid gatherings

The school year is in full swing for many students across Simcoe County, with an area doctor urging children to social distance.

The rise of the Delta variant in the province has the past Ontario Medical Association president reminding grade-school students to keep their distance and avoid gatherings.

"We are seeing that the Delta variant continues to be more transmissible, which means children will get the Delta variant. They themselves may not get sick, but they can give it to adults who are unvaccinated and make those adults sick,' said Dr. Sohail Gandhi.

Gandhi said many parents at his practice had asked the same question, 'What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children and to differentiate them from allergies.'

"A runny nose could be anything, and this time of year, it's most commonly due to allergies which is the furthest thing away from a viral infection," he explained.

Gandhi said to check the child for a fever and a cough.

If those symptoms are found, he advises getting a COVID-19 test.

Gandhi would like to see rapid testing available at schools and other settings where people gather indoors, like sporting events.

"There should be an ability for those who are unvaccinated to get tested more often," said Gandhi.

The physician added that anyone eligible for the vaccine who chooses not to get their shot should be required to pay for their rapid test.

Recently, the target vaccination rate moved to 90 per cent in Ontario because of the rise of the Delta variant.

Gandhi explained that the percentage was raised because the Delta variant is more transmissible than past COVID-19 strains. Gandhi said reaching 90 per cent is achievable.

"It's going to need continued emphasis and reporting of people who wind up in the hospital and in the ICU on ventilators," he said.

Gandi concluded by saying he hopes knowing that most patients in the hospital are unvaccinated will encourage people to get their shots.