Peterborough Public Health Launches COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index
Written by Comms Team, December 7, 2022
Risk Index Remains at Moderate level
Peterborough Public Health launches the COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index. The risk index now provides additional indicators for other respiratory viruses in the Peterborough region.
“Our goal with the updated COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index is to provide evidence on all local respiratory indicators to show a full picture of respiratory virus transmission in our community,” says Dr. Thomas Piggott, Medical Officer of Health. “The changes that we made to the index incorporate other respiratory virus data into the existing risk index. Like other health units in Ontario, we recognize that COVID-19 is no longer the only respiratory virus threatening our community and health care system capacity. The updated index will allow residents to make an informed decision about their health.”
Dr. Piggott noted this information will be of particular importance to people at higher risk of severe symptoms due to a respiratory infection. This includes young children and infants, older adults, those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 or influenza, and those with immune deficiency or compromising medical conditions.
The COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index incorporates data previously used for the Local COVID-19 Risk Index including wastewater surveillance signals, number of hospitalizations and deaths, percentage positivity of PCR tests and community-reported rapid-antigen tests (through Peterborough Public Health’s online survey), and the local case incidence rate per 100,000. However, the updated index will now incorporate indicators such as emergency department visits due to respiratory illness, hospital admissions due to respiratory illness, percent positivity of influenza tests, and outbreaks due to respiratory illness.
Dr. Piggott shares, “like the previous risk index, the updated version is designed to inform residents of their current risk of getting a respiratory infection and provides guidance for staying safe. Just like COVID-19 prevention, a multi-layer approach can also protect against other respiratory viruses circulating. Wearing a well fitted N95 or KN95 mask, gathering outdoors or in well ventilated areas, staying home when unwell, and getting the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines are layers of protection against respiratory illnesses.” The risk index will be updated each Wednesday by 5 p.m. It can be found at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/covid-risk-index.
The COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index is in the moderate level this week. Dr. Piggott mentions, “The index is showing moderate risk for our community of all respiratory infections. We are seeing that COVID-19 indicators are improving or remaining the same. But, we are seeing an increase in indicators for other respiratory viruses, specifically seeing an increase in hospital admissions due to respiratory infections and higher percent positivity in influenza tests.”
With the update of the risk index, guidance has been updated to reflect prevention measures for other respiratory viruses. In the moderate level, residents are recommended to wear a mask in high-risk indoor settings or when interacting with high-risk individuals. Outdoor or small group gatherings are suggested. If gathering indoors, residents are encouraged to gather in spaces with quality ventilation systems or open doors and windows to improve ventilation.
In general, Peterborough Public Health recommends the following guidance for local residents:
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 and influenza vaccines. This means receiving a fall dose for both.
- Continue to mask up indoors and around others with a respirator, e.g. N95 or KN95 (especially if you’re at high-risk).
- Stay home if sick, even if you have mild symptoms, these could be deadly to someone you pass it along to.
- Use rapid antigen tests and continue to report both positive and negative test results to PPH using our confidential online reporting survey: com/RAT21.
- Practice proper hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette.
- Get tested and treated if you’re eligible. The assessment centre at Peterborough Regional Health Centre can test and treat patients who are presenting with any respiratory symptoms.
To bookmark the Index, please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/covid-risk-index.
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705-743-1000, ext. 352