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UPDATE: More than 35 ‘probable’ COVID-19 cases in Bay of Quinte region

UPDATE MARCH 16 – As the result of several changes in provincial guidelines related to COVID-19 screening and testing, Public Health officials strongly suspect COVID-19 is circulating in the community and are advising all members of the public to recognize that there is a time limited opportunity to slow down the local spread of the virus.

While there have been no lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community at this time, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has identified 35 probable cases of COVID-19 in the region.

“These individuals have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days and until symptoms resolve,” said Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager. “In addition, travel related cases have been lab confirmed in nearby public health unit jurisdictions, such as in Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.”

Montgomery said the Ministry of Health broadened the definition for a probable case of COVID-19 on Friday. A probable case is defined as a person with a fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or a cough and any of the following within 14 days prior to onset of illness: travel to an impacted area, or close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, or close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to an impacted area.

“In addition, lab test results are no longer required to screen an individual as a probable case. The recent implementation of a dial-in screening service at HPEPH has expedited the screening process while quickly and efficiently identifying probable cases.”

Montgomer noted as screening for probable cases no longer requires lab testing, it is possible that not all of the identified probable cases are COVID-19.

“However, the emergence of local probable cases reinforces the need for all community members to practice precautions, including social distancing, hand hygiene, and infection control.

“As many probable cases are related to travel, this data also reinforces the need for returning travellers to comply with the self-isolation advisory issued by HPEPH yesterday, as well as existing provincial self-isolation requirements.”

The recent advisory calls for all individuals who are returning from any travel outside of Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

“Everyone can contribute to slowing the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

“We want the community to know that while we suspect the virus is in our community, we can slow the spread locally. We are calling on everyone in our community to do their part and help keep the risk low in our community”, says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “This means practicing regular infection control, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, working from home if possible, and staying home when you are sick.”

Individuals who are concerned that they may have COVID-19 are advised to visit hpePublicHealth.ca for more information. If they have recently travelled or have been in close contact with an individual who has a probable/confirmed case, individuals are asked to contact HPEPH at 613-966-5500 for more information and guidance.

More than 20 ‘probable’ COVID-19 cases in Bay of Quinte region

MARCH 15 – Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) notified municipal leaders on Sunday that there are more than 20 “probable” but not yet “confirmed” cases of COVID-19 in the Bay of Quinte region – based on symptoms and recent travel.

“The recent update from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reinforces the importance of social distancing as well as frequent and thorough hand washing,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson. “The time to act is now. We all have a role to play in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ‘flattening the curve.’”

Ferguson stated the health and well-being of the community remains top priority.

“The municipality continues to take an abundance of caution and do everything it can to help keep residents safe and healthy,” said Fergson. “Effective immediately, we are closing all recreation facilities, museums and town halls and adding protocols to access municipal customer services at Shire Hall and the Edward Building. We are also making plans to implement social distancing for council/committee meetings.”

The Wellington and District Community Centre and the Prince Edward Community Centre closed to the public as of 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15. Use of municipal facilities for community support services will be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
All town halls and museums are closed and no social activities or events will be permitted. Call 613.476.6505 if you have questions about your town hall booking.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the province requested hospitals to ramp down elective surgeries and other non-emergent clinical activity to preserve capacity as cases of COVID-19 grow in Ontario. Casinos have also been closed.

Nursing homes have restricted access to visitors who have a resident who is dying, or very ill

The Quinte Children’s Treatment Centre in the Sills Wing at Quinte Health Care Belleville is suspending in-person appointments until April 6. This also impacts satellite services in Picton, Trenton and Bancroft. Staff members will be at the CTC and can be reached during the week at 613-969-7400 ext. 2247.

The theatre closed Sunday, as has the Prince Edward Fitness centre. The library has suspended its programming, but is continuing its lending.

Municipal offices at Shire Hall and the Edward Building remain open at this time. The municipality is undertaking increased cleaning and disinfecting of common contact points in municipal offices to ensure public safety. In addition, the municipality will restrict access within these municipal offices in order to protect staff.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is advising the public that any individuals meeting criteria should contact HPEPH at 613.966.5500 for more information and guidance with respect to restrictions and follow up requirements.

HPEPH recommends all individuals who are returning from travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

“We are advising all international travellers to take proactive measures and self-isolate while monitoring for symptoms, in order to help keep the local risk of COVID-19 as low as possible” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health. “We are asking everyone in our community to practice social responsibility during this critical time, as these actions can protect your own health and those around you. We have the opportunity to slow the spread of illness and ensure health care resources are available to those who need them most.”

For the most up-to-date information, refer to the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health website for local updates and the Ministry of Health for provincial updates.

Filed Under: Local News

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