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Eastern Ontario Health Unit hoping for regional reopening approach with herd immunity on horizon

Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is confident the region will be ready for the stay-at-home order to be lifted by June 2, and for additional loosened restrictions through June and July.
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The top doctor for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) thinks some less-populated regions may be ready to loosen some pandemic-related public health restrictions before hot spots. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is hopeful the area covered by the EOHU will be close to reaching herd immunity by Wednesday, June 2. That's when the Ontario government will consider lifting its current province-wide stay-at home order. 

"It will likely be enough time for many EOHU areas," said Dr. Roumeliotis. "It may not be enough time for Toronto, but I do anticipate that we would be in a good position a couple of weeks from now."

Dr. Roumeliotis says, by that point, the EOHU region's vaccine rates will also be at a very good level, with 68 per cent of the population expected to be inoculated by the end of May. 

"My colleagues in Toronto are a bit more apprehensive because of the fact that they have the higher numbers," Dr. Roumeliotis says. "But, I think that if [the province goes] with a regional approach, it may allow for large regions of the population to open, whereas others stay closed."

He adds, with a recent influx of vaccine supply in Ontario, the EOHU will be able to reduce the four-month interval between vaccine doses, likely by June or July. 

"That's when you start really seeing substantial drops in numbers, like we are seeing in other places," says Dr. Roumeliotis. "That's when you'll start seeing a substantial modification of mask mandates and other things. Not completely normal, but much more normal than what we've had the last 18 months." 

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