Niagara reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and zero new cases on Sunday.

This follows only two cases reported Friday.

Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, feels the numbers are setting us up pretty well as the region and province ready for children returning to schools.

“I think overall after our numbers started to go up in late July they seem to have come back down and may be lower than most of June and July. So I think that’s really good news,” said Hirji.

“The No. 1 thing that will keep children and staff safe at schools is if there are very few infections outside of the school.”

Hirji cautioned there is always possibility there are unknown infections in the community.

“If people are perhaps disregarding mild symptoms, they feel that with the numbers so low it’s unlikely that they have COVID and are not getting tested.

“I want to remind people that if they have any kind of mild symptom, fever cough, even a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, nausea vomiting, anything like that it’s a good reason to get tested to be sure that you do not have COVID-19.”

His other message is that as good as the numbers are looking right now all of this good news is very fragile.

“We’ve seen elsewhere like Toronto and Peel, they are seeing their numbers start to go up again, not by a lot but it has ticked up a bit.

“In some countries around the world like Spain, Australia, they are in second waves of infection.”

“Even right here in Canada we’re experiencing a second wave of infection,” added Hirji. “In B.C. they’re seeing more cases per day then they were in March and April.”

While he said it’s not his job to convince parents to send their kids back to school — it’s an individual decision by parents — the low numbers from the weekend position Niagara well for the return to school.

“The health department is here to have the information available for them to make the right decision.

“And for parents wanting some reassurance, first off we have seen schools reopening has been successful in other countries.”

He said the consistent theme for all of those countries is that they had very few cases of COVID-19 in the community.

“When children get COVID-19, they are most likely to get a mild infection. In that sense, there is relatively less risk for children.”

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“I don’t want to say that there is absolutely no risk, there is always a risk of getting, COVID-19. There are going to be children and teachers who get COVID-19, and we’re probably going to see some outbreaks, but I think with all the measures that have been put in place by the province, and by the school boards hopefully, we’ll see few if any, and small, outbreaks.”

Hirji said Niagara has 700 to 1,000 tests done per day, and it’s vital that anyone with symptoms, even if they’ve been tested before, have it done again.

“The critical time when someone should get tested is when they have symptoms of illness, the test at that point is very reliable, and it will give you a good answer then.



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