Algoma medical officer of health optimistic as Omicron plateaus

While the region is not out of the woods with regard to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Algoma's medical officer of health says there is reason for optimism.

"We're certainly still in the middle of this surge in Omicron cases as we've seen across the province," said Dr. Jennifer Loo. "The good news is that we're no longer seeing that same exponential rise, especially not just in the high-risk cases that we're reporting, but also in hospitalizations."

A gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions is set to begin next week, with a minimum of 21 days between changes to provincial public health measures. Loo said she agrees with that approach.

"For this particular virus, we know that what we see today in terms of illnesses and hospitalizations were likely the result of activities one to two weeks ago," she said.

"So that 21-day period gives us that buffer to see whether the measures we're taking now are having an effect."

At Sault Area Hospital, officials said they are preparing for the eventual return of non-urgent surgeries and procedures as it recovers from its latest COVID-19 outbreak.

"We have numbers in the high 40s of staff that are off that are COVID-positive, but we are managing," said Sue Roger, vice-president of clinical programs and chief nursing executive.

"It seems to be diffused across the organization after the original, or initial, outbreak in the emergency room."

Loo said we're in a better position now compared to March 2020, when there were no vaccines and limited treatments for COVID-19 – and when the only means of stopping the spread was restrictive lockdowns.

"It's been a rough start to January for many, but hopefully with the easing of the snow and the cold will come better days ahead," she said.