Mask and test amid ‘optimistic’ COVID outlook

Dr. Natalie Bocking said masking is still a key way to decrease COVID-19 spread as case counts and hospitalizations fall in the region.

“Don’t throw out all the measures we know have helped us protect our loved ones,” she said.

A declining rate of 91.2 cases per 100,000 people means Highlanders can be “cautiously optimistic” about the spring, she said.

Restaurants opened at full capacity Feb. 17. On March 1, indoor settings won’t be obligated to check proof of vaccination.


“From everyone’s perspective what I’m hearing is everyone’s done with COVID,” Bocking said. “COVID-19 as a virus, it doesn’t really care when we’re done with it.”

Testing expands

The Ontario Ministry of Health has expanded COVID-19 testing eligibility. In a Feb. 16 press release, Haliburton Highlands Health Services advised anyone who is immunocompromised or unvaccinated and pregnant or unvaccinated and 50 or older can receive a test if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

The HHHS testing centre will indicate if someone qualifies for testing and referral to a treatment centre, where new COVID-19 treatments may be available soon. At-home tips An influx of COVID-19 tests at drug stores and grocery stores means many are equipped to conduct rapid tests at home.

Dr. Bocking said she suggests using the tests to diagnose COVID-19 symptoms, rather than when no symptoms are present.

She said there’s emerging evidence that swabbing the cheek and nostrils might provide more accurate tests results, but added that “we know the tests are not perfect.”

Testing kits were available at Haliburton’s Rexall, Shopper’s Drug Mart and Todd’s Independent Grocer, Highland Remedy Rx, and Minden Pharmacy in Minden, though availability varies

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