Life has been very different since COVID-19 took over. The country and provinces have reopened in three stages, patios have become more common with restaurants, and enhanced cleaning is happening at all public spaces and indoor establishments.
But recently cases have trended upwards, especially among young people, causing concern.
Rischelle Juacalla, a registered practical nurse at Michael Garron Hospital who has been working on the frontlines during the pandemic, says she is upset seeing the rise in case numbers.
“It is depressing because people do not know how it affects other people working in healthcare,” Juacalla said. “I work two jobs and at my other job, we had an outbreak from the very start. Our unit had to close down. I did not go there for three months because of the outbreak. All my friends and co-workers were sick from COVID-19.”
Juacalla takes all precautions necessary to keep her family safe, such as having her daughter do online courses, because her mother has underlining health issues. However, online learning is difficult. After work, Juacalla helps her daughter with any online assignments, which takes them into the night hours.
Juacalla also says people should know what COVID-19 is and why you have to quarantine for two weeks, as that is when the virus is most contagious.
“We still got patients that are positive up until now but they are not sick, they are not contagious — that is why people need to be careful with hand washing and wearing masks,” she says.
Dr. Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital, says the recent increase of COVID-19 cases among youth are from indoor parties off-campus.
“[There was] the report out of Western — five students got infected, but they were partying off campus, inside without masks,” said he said. “That is where infections are occurring. It was not because they were students at Western, it is because they were out partying.”
Now with schools reopening, cases in Ontario have risen into the triple digits, which has been happening since Aug. 26, when Ontario last reported under 100 cases of the novel coronavirus. Before, the majority of those testing positive for COVID-19 were elderly. But today younger individuals make up most of the recent cases.
Jha says he expects cases to stay at a high level this week. However, if people avoid parties and take control, we should see a modest reduction. He also says you need to look at the number of cases from a week-by-week perspective, as data for this week is a reflection of behaviour from last week.
He encourages everyone to use the contact-tracing app, as it can help determine who has been exposed to the virus, as well as combat it.
“If restaurants and bars were to open, there should be a simple [policy]: no app, no entry,” Jha said. “Everyone wants to go out and socialize; they should use the app. It is aconfidential tracing app and it tells you if you been exposed to someone who reports positive to the virus. It is a good investment.”