Don’t attend parties this Halloween, region’s public health official says

Adults, and not just children, need to remember to follow public health guidelines around Halloween this year, the region’s top public health official says.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said people need to remember not to gather with those outside of their households.

Wang said she’s worried people will gather indoors and when alcohol is involved, people tend not to follow physical distancing guidelines.

“This also applies, and is especially important, for adults,” she noted Friday during a media briefing. “Please do not attend parties. Do not attend gatherings with anyone outside of your immediate household.”

The parties are “high risk” for transmission of COVID-19, she said.

“We have seen how easily it can spread when there’s crowded spaces and enclosed places,” she said.

For people considering trick-or-treating, it is allowed in the region, but Wang said people need to take precautions.

That includes staying home if you’re feeling ill, even if symptoms are mild. People should turn off their porch light and not hand out candy if they’re sick, she said. For people going door-to-door, wear a face covering, only go out with their household, keep their distance from other people and wash and clean hands often.

Wang suggested people might want to consider alternatives this year like watching a Halloween movie or doing a backyard candy hunt. 

“Halloween will look a little different this year, but it can be just as fun,” she said.

19 new cases

There are 19 new cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region as of Friday, public health reported. It brings the total this month to 411 cases. Since March, there have been 2,133 cases.

There are 98 active cases. Wang noted nine people are in hospital with three people in intensive care.

There are four outbreaks and she said overall, outbreaks have been “well controlled” in the region. There are no outbreaks at long-term care or retirement homes. The outbreaks in the region are:

  • One is at a manufacturing workplace with three cases.
  • One is at an energy and utility workplace with two cases.
  • One is linked to an event held at a place of worship with 18 cases, although public health has noted not all the cases are people who live in Waterloo region.
  • One is at Our Lady of Grace Catholic elementary school with three cases. In that outbreak, the class cohort is at home and is being monitored right now, Wang said. 

The region’s testing partners have done more than 171,000 COVID-19 tests.

Local cases ‘relatively stable’

Ontario reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Wang said she feels Waterloo region’s cases are not spiking because people continue to follow public health guidelines.

“Locally, the situation is relatively stable to date. That said, provincially and in some other medium-sized regions, the rates of new cases, hospitalizations, [cases in] ICUs and outbreaks continue to trend upwards and we know that the situation can accelerate quickly anywhere,” she said.

She said as the weather becomes colder, people will spend more time indoors.

“This will increase the risks of COVID-19 spread,” she said, noting it’s important for people to continue to follow public health guidelines in the months to come.

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