The Ontario government’s announcement that all publicly-funded schools will be closed until April 5, as well as recommendations that gatherings over 250 people be cancelled, are preventive measures that are being implemented to prevent and control spread of COVID-19, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).
“It’s important to understand that the mandatory closures do not mean that COVID-19 is spreading uncontrollably in Ontario. It isn’t. In fact, all cases to date in Ontario have been linked to travel – not community spread. This is good news,” explains Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. He adds that to date, there have been no confirmed cases in the EOHU region. However, “the school closures and limit on gatherings are important containment measures that can help prevent or limit spread into the community.” The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect vulnerable individuals and to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system, as has happened in Italy.
Dr. Roumeliotis underlines that while these are important measures, individuals and families should also take personal steps to help avoid the spread of infection. “Evidence shows that these are very effective precautions for protecting yourself and others.” The EOHU recommends the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.
- Where possible, practise social distancing such as keeping two metres from other individuals and avoiding crowded spaces. This is especially important for seniors or individuals with underlying health problems.
The government is also recommending that for the time being, Canadians avoid or postpone non-essential travel outside of Canada.
For more information on COVID-19, including recommendations for travellers, visit www.Canada.ca/coronavirus and www.Ontario.ca/coronavirus. For local updates, visit www.EOHU.ca/coronavirus and follow the Eastern Ontario Health Unit on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EOHUhealth) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/EOHU_tweet).