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49 COVID-19 cases in EOHU, Roumeliotis warns pandemic will last months

UPDATED AT 11:05 p.m. on 04/09/2020

There were 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) jurisdiction as of Thursday, April 9. Four of the local patients are in hospital and three of those patients are in intensive care.

A COVID-19 outbreak was reported on April 7 at the Milieux de vie a L’Érablière Valoris group home in Plantagenet. A regular coronavirus (not COVID-19) outbreak was reported on March 17 at the Prescott-Russell Residence long-term care facility in Hawkesbury.

View the Eastern Ontario Health Unit list of outbreaks and their status here.

“We’re starting to see a bit of a flattening of the Ontario curve,” said EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis on Thursday.

However, he does not want to instantly assume the situation is improving.

Emergency orders

With Easter approaching, Roumeliotis again reminded local residents to stay home.  Gatherings are to be limited to the number of people living in one dwelling and are not to include extended family or friends who live elsewhere.

The current maximum amount of people who are allowed to congregate in Ontario is five but Roumeliotis said that could soon be reduced to two.

As for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roumeliotis echoed comments made earlier on Thursday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam which indicated that the pandemic itself could last for one to one and a half years.  Roumeliotis said that any return to normal life will be gradual and progressive, depending on what the case numbers are.

“It’s going to take awhile,” he said.

Meanwhile, the EOHU is looking at ways to ensure a basic level of its regular services are maintained.  Roumeliotis said it is especially important to ensure newborn babies can have medical appointments and that children receive immunizations.

Testing

The EOHU has opened five COVID-19 testing and assessment centres in communities across its territory.  At the Hawkesbury facility, 345 patients have visited so far, and 230 of them were tested.  At the drive-through site in Casselman, 135 patients have visited and 120 of them were tested.  A by-appointment only centre opened in Rockland on Wednesday and it tested five patients.

Provincial boundary

The issue continues involving non-essential traffic crossing the Ontario-Québec boundary.  On Thursday, Roumeliotis said he is working on possible solutions with Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell on ways to curtail unnecessary traffic from Québec into Ontario communities near the provincial boundary.

No camping

Campgrounds are not for waiting out the COVID-19 crisis.  Roumeliotis said that the only people who are legally permitted to go to their trailers are returning snowbirds whose trailer is there only place of residence in Canada, and they must obey federal quarantine orders and remain at their trailer for two weeks.  Under the public health orders in Ontario, campgrounds are not an essential service.  Québec residents should not be going to campgrounds in Ontario at this time either.

State of supplies

The inventory of personal protective equipment for employees of local hospitals is reaching a critical low.

“Our hospitals are close to running out,” said Roumeliotis on Wednesday.

Fortunately, a shipment of new material secured by the Ontario government is set to arrive shortly.

Directions from the federal government are being implemented on how to safely decontaminate and reuse personal protective equipment for health care personnel.  However, Roumeliotis called that option “a last resort.”

The EOHU is still seeking donations of protective equipment.

According to Roumeliotis, there is normally a province-wide supply of personal protective equipment to last three to six months, but that reserve has been depleted.

The only hospital in the EOHU territory that ventilates patients is the Cornwall Community Hospital.  Roumeliotis said that the hospital has 14 ventilator machines and only two of them are currently in use.

The EOHU has been seeking donations of personal protective equipment for its personnel, along with emergency and hospital personnel to use.  The neighbouring Leeds and Grenville, Lanark District Health Unit is also seeking donations, but there is no indication that Ottawa Public Health has made a similar request.

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.

 

 

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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