The North Shore Health Network is implementing visitor restrictions at all of its facilities in response to recent COVID-19 cases in Blind River. (Mike McDonald/CTV News)

The North Shore Health Network is implementing visitor restrictions at all of its facilities in response to recent COVID-19 cases in Blind River.

With the exception of patients receiving end-of-life care, visitation of any kind is suspended until further notice.

David Murray, interim CEO, said the situation in Blind River is a wake-up call for small towns.

“I know in my work across the region, across the north in the last year, small communities were spared in the first round for the most part,” says Murray. “They’re getting hit now, and we have to remain vigilant and do everything we can.”

In addition to visitor restrictions imposed at the North Shore Health Network, the Algoma District School Board decided to close Blind River Public School as a precautionary measure after someone associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19.

“The decision to close was not related to high-risk exposure,” said director of education Lucia Reece. “The closure is due to just the volume of the numbers of staff that are also being asked to self-isolate. We felt that we could not ensure the safety and supervision of students today.”

Blind River Public School will be closed to in-person learning until at least Feb. 12.

Blind River Mayor Sally Hagman said the COVID-19 situation can change quickly, and everyone must be vigilant.

“We have been so lucky up until this point in not having COVID knocking at our door,” said Hagman. “So that when it did start to knock, people are very, very concerned and it was a wake-up call.”

A Tim Hortons location in Blind River also remains closed as Algoma Public Health continues to investigate what it calls a low-risk COVID-19 exposure there.