Things not trending locally in the right direction: Hajdu –

Exponential growth in cases in the District of Thunder Bay is ‘scary,’ says Canada’s Health Minister.

THUNDER BAY – As Canada’s health minister, Patty Hajdu says things are looking up across the country, as vaccines slowly, but surely, begin to roll out and case counts begin to drop.

However, when Hajdu takes off her cabinet hat instead puts on her Liberal red toque as the MP for Thunder Bay –Superior North, she’s not thrilled with what she’s seen in recent weeks.

The District of Thunder Bay has seen its COVID-19 case count skyrocket, to 229 active cases and counting, including 166 added to the database in the past seven days alone.

“Things are not trending in the right direction,” Hajdu said, “and it’s actually kind of scary because we have a very small health-care system. I’ve been saying this from the very beginning. So when our health-care system goes into crisis, there are not a lot of options. There are not other hospitals that can pick up the slack.”

Hajdu said this is why it’s important for the general public not to look at last week’s move back into the provincial COVID-19 framework, albeit at the stringent Red-Control level, as a carte blanche return to normal.

This is far from over, the second-term representative said.

“I think it’s really important that we all continue to do what we can to reduce our contacts, to protect each other. I understand the desire that people want to get to get back to normal, but given where we’re at as a community, as we see these cases grow and spread in schools and other workplaces, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be a lot harder to tamp down this growth if we don’t all buckle down right now and try to stay home as much as possible,” Hajdu said.

The health minister said she’s in constant contact with public health officials in the region, including the District of Thunder Bay and the Northwestern Health Unit, which jumped to more than 100 active cases in the past week, most of them confined to Wabaseemoong First Nation, leading officials there to consider a splitting off part of the district out of the Yellow level of Ontario’s COVID-19 framework.

Hajdu said what she’s learned over the course of the pandemic is that governments at all levels need to be able to move fast.

“You need to take measures that are strong and swift and act quickly,” she said. “So I would say whatever we can do now as a community to stop this exponential growth is important. You know these decisions are made at the provincial level and it’s important and, we’ve been stressing this … if we see variants take hold and explosive growth, we could be in a world of pain as a country.

“We’ve in a very delicate time.”

Hajdu said vaccine delivery is beginning to get back on track, with 400,000 doses planned for distribution over the next several weeks.

“But what we don’t want to see is explosions of growth in rural – or any area really – that puts pressure on our health-care systems, in the way that I anticipate Thunder Bay is going to be feeling very shortly.”

There are currently at least a dozen people in the COVID-19 unit at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, three in intensive care.