UPDATED AT 4:05 p.m. on 04/05/2020
On Sunday afternoon, there were 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).
The cases are throughout Prescott-Russell and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry.
In the coming days, the EOHU will be revamping its reporting method of the cases on its website to include the age group, source of infection, and the hospital where the patient sought treatment.
On Friday, the Ontario government released its best and worst-case scenarios for the effects COVID-19 could have on the population of the province.
The government report stated that if authorities in Ontario had done nothing, the number of COVID-19 cases in the province could have reached 300,000 with an estimated 6,000 deaths. However, due to the strict measures put in place during recent weeks to limit transmission, an estimated 220,000 cases and 4,400 deaths have been prevented, so far. The province is still estimating though that there could still be 3,000 to 15,000 COVID-19-related deaths in Ontario during the course of the pandemic. The report said that if the current prevention measures are maintained or strengthened, 12,500 more cases and 200 more deaths in Ontario can be prevented by the end of April.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis estimated that if no measures had been taken locally, there could have been 4,500 cases in the region.
He acknowledged that any deaths are a tragedy and wished there could be none, but that is unlikely.
“Locally, we could bring it down to 50 deaths,” Roumeliotis said.
New orders issued
In addition to the Ontario government reducing the number of businesses considered essential on Friday, Roumeliotis issued two further orders under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
One of the orders obligates the operators of stores to ensure there is proper physical distancing and cleanliness of the premises. It also requires store management to limit the number of customers allowed in the store.
The other order requires mandatory isolation of all individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms who has been tested and is awaiting results, anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe they have COVID-19, and any person who has close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed, is awaiting test results, or has reasonable grounds to believe they are infected.
Roumeliotis said that these orders, along with the others already given by the province or the EOHU, will be enforced by the health unit’s enforcement officers, police, and municipal by-law officers.
On the subject of testing, Roumeliotis said on Friday that individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are considered to have an immunity to coronavirus for up to two years. He said this situation exists with other viruses and has reason to believe the same result will exist in COVID-19 patients.
Wider testing of individuals is being considered in order to figure out if people who are asymptomatic can still carry the virus and potentially infect others. Roumeliotis said this would be done by a blood test, rather than the swab tests that are being used currently to test individuals showing symptoms.
On Thursday, the drive-through COVID-19 testing and assessment centre opened at the EOHU office at 872 Principale Street in Casselman. The centre is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. Upon arrival, drivers stop for a short triage video call and then a nurse determines if they should continue to the next stop for testing, which is done by public health nurses while people remain seated in their vehicles.
There is also a testing and assessment centre located at 755 Laurier Street in Hawkesbury.
Additional regular testing and assessment centres opened on April 2 in Cornwall and Winchester. Future locations are being planned for Alexandria and Rockland, if necessary.
Here is information from the EOHU website about COVID-19 and symptoms:
If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19
A COVID-19 self assessment tool is available here. (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0)
Symptoms of COVID-19 are common to a number of respiratory illnesses, and can range from mild to severe: fever, cough and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Please note: in order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in the EOHU region, we are now recommending that all residents of the EOHU region practise social distancing.
If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms:
Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room immediately. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history.
If you are experiencing non-severe symptoms:
In order to reduce the burden on 911 and on hospitals, please do not call or show up at the hospital if you are not experiencing serious illness.
If you have MILD symptoms, where you are NOT short of breath and can manage symptoms reasonably at home:
- Do NOT call the Eastern Ontario Health Unit
- Do NOT call 911 or go to the hospital or testing/assessment centre
- DO self-isolate for 14 days or until 24 hours AFTER symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer
- NOTE: Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home
If you have ESCALATING SYMPTOMS THAT ARE NOT SEVERE such as a new or worsening cough and/or fever, AND have either travelled outside of Canada or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days:
- Children under 6 months of age meeting these criteria should be taken to CHEO
- Visit a COVID-19 Testing/Assessment Centre (you do not need a referral from the EOHU), OR call your healthcare provider
- If you are 70 years or older, cannot get to a COVID-19 Testing/Assessment Centre or have special considerations, call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120
- If the COVID-19 Testing/Assessment Centre and your healthcare provider are both closed, go to the hospital emergency department and pay attention to special signage
If you do not have symptoms:
People WITHOUT respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough) will NOT be tested for COVID-19, regardless of potential exposures.
Even if you do not have symptoms, you should self-isolate for 14 days if:
- You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America)
- You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has:
- Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada.