Reader letter: Health unit has responsibility to protect local community

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Recently, Windsor-Essex Public Health Unit’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesthurai said: “This is the time for the province to act,” in reference to new public health measures required to curb transmission of this sixth wave of COVID-19 .

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He also recognized the ability of each local medical officer of health to act independently (according to the Health Protection and Promotion Act) to enforce public health measures to curb transmission of infectious pathogens.

However, his “preference” was for a provincial mandate to be ordered by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. K. Moore — who has scarcely made himself available to the media for over a month.

As a physician, a vulnerable person with an immunodeficiency and citizen, I was both encouraged and disappointed by Dr. Neshurai’s remarks.

I have recognized the risk to the health of our local population, the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on the Windsor-Essex community, but preferred not to act now. His duty is to protect this region, not follow the government.

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The BA2 variant is unlike the former.

Even people who are vaccinated are sicker. Severe throat pain, fevers and prolonged infectious periods beyond five days are not uncommon. Local hospitalizations are climbing (suspected and confirmed cases), impacting seniors, cancer patients and immunocompromised persons especially.

Most local families have been impacted in some fashion. I fear provincial deaths will soon climb. Absentee rates at schools are significant.

Wearing a mask in schools, indoors and in public settings, isn’t a great burden to bear for a few weeks.

Our public health unit has done amazing work despite so many challenges. They can meet this one—if they choose.

Christopher Leighton, MD, LaSalle

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