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Active COVID-19 cases across EOHU jurisdiction up by six as Ontario plans to relax long-term care restrictions

There were 227 active cases of COVID-19 among residents of the jurisdiction of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) as of Tuesday, May 4.  There was a net total of six new cases as of Tuesday from the 221 cases on Monday, May 3.

As of Tuesday, there were 22 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the EOHU’s territory and six of those patients were in intensive care.

The number of COVID-19 variant cases across the EOHU’s territory has decreased significantly.  On May 3, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that only 34 per cent of active EOHU cases that day were variants while 73.5 per cent of cases across Ontario were variants.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

There had been 101 deaths due to COVID-19 across the jurisdiction of the EOHU as of May 4.

Restrictions

The provincewide shutdown and stay-at-home order is to remain in effect for the entire province of Ontario. The Ontario-Québec boundary is also closed to all but the most essential traffic. The restrictions are in effect until May 20.  On Monday, Roumeliotis said his preference is to have the restrictions extended by four days to include the Victoria Day long weekend.  He intends to make that recommendation to the provincial advisory table.

“The lower we get coming out of this, the better it will be in terms of lifting restrictions,” Roumeliotis said.

Ontario statistics

There were 2,791 new, active cases of COVID-19 across Ontario as of May 4. According to calculations based on statistics from the Ministry of Health, there were 36,440 active cases of COVID-19 across Ontario as of Tuesday.  The increase on Tuesday was the lowest across Ontario since April 1.

There were 2,167 COVID-19 patients in hospital across Ontario as of Tuesday. Out of those patients, 886 were in intensive care, and 609 patients were on ventilators.

There had been 8,143 deaths due to COVID-19 across Ontario as of May 4, which was an increase of 25 deaths from May 3.

Vaccinations

As of May 4, 64,479 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered across the jurisdiction of the EOHU.

Effective April 30, COVID-19 vaccination appointments became available to all Ontario residents age 55 and older. On Thursday, May 6, appointments will become available to all individuals age 50 and older (born in 1971 or before).  Vaccination appointments will be available to all adults age 18 and older across Ontario by May 24.

Astra-Zeneca vaccine supplies at participating local pharmacies have not been replenished but the EOHU was expecting to get a better indication on Monday of when more will be delivered.

Across Ontario, 5,467,120 vaccine doses had been administered, and 378,085 Ontario residents had been fully vaccinated by receiving both required doses as of May 4.

Within the EOHU’s jurisdiction, Ontario residents 55 years of age and older may book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment using Ontario’s online booking system. In accordance with the latest recommendations, those bookings will be given appointments for first and second doses, 16 weeks apart.

Provincial Online Booking System

Ontario’s vaccine booking system is accepting vaccine bookings for individuals who will be turning 55 or older in 2021 (born in 1966 or earlier) in 2021. Booking is available at www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine. Individuals who require assistance with bookings can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.

The booking system will screen for eligibility based on age using health card information. Appointments can be made by an individual or with the help of family or an informal caregiver (note: family/informal caregivers born after 1966 cannot book an appointment for themselves at this time, however, they may use the EOHU Pre-Registration tool to pre-register for an appointment).

If you have a family member or provide care to someone who was born in 1966 or before, please encourage them to get vaccinated. Vaccinations will be available BY APPOINTMENT ONLY at vaccine clinics being held across the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry; the United Counties of Prescott-Russell; and the City of Cornwall. Alternate arrangements will be made for individuals who notify us of barriers preventing them from physically going to a clinic.

Institutional outbreaks

The following hospitals, long-term care, retirement residences, and group home facilities under EOHU jurisdiction also had COVID-19 outbreaks as of May 4:

St-Viateur Nursing Home in Limoges

Residence St-Mathieu in Hammond

Residence Cartier in Bourget

Caressant Care Nursing Home in Bourget

Community Living-Lasalle in Cornwall

On Tuesday, Minister of Long-Term Care Merilee Fullerton announced that due to low COVID-19 infection rates at long-term care facilities, and high levels of COVID-19 vaccination in many long-term care homes, changes are being made to help resume communal dining and social activities for residents.

Based on advice from public health experts and in direct response to residents and their families, an updated Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes from the Chief Medical Officer of Health was released today, along with a guidance document for long-term care homes. The updated Directive #3 sets out that long-term care homes can now safely resume activities such as communal dining and indoor events and gatherings, with precautions.

Additionally, residents and their caregivers who are fully immunized may choose to have close physical contact beyond what is required for care and supervision, such as hugging.

Once the current provincewide Stay-at-Home order is lifted, further direction allowing social and temporary outings for fully immunized residents will be issued. Under the updated Directive #3, all residents, regardless of their immunization status, can leave their homes on an essential absence, which includes outdoor exercise, buying groceries, or visiting the pharmacy, while the Stay-at-Home order is in place. Essential absences are not permitted when a resident is symptomatic, has been identified as a COVID-19 case or a contact, or as directed by local public health.

All residents continue to be able to leave their long-term care homes for medical absences or compassionate absences at all times.

Homes must provide residents with a medical mask for outings and remind them to maintain appropriate physical distancing and hand hygiene while away from the home.

The province continues to actively monitor COVID-19 activity, particularly in this vulnerable sector, and ensure that the health and safety of residents and staff in this sector remains a top priority, while improving residents’ quality of life.

School closures

All schools in Ontario have switched to learning online indefinitely due to the significant number of new cases of COVID-19 among students in recent weeks.

EOHU COVID-19 case map, May 4, 2021

Map: Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

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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