COVID-19 testing to expand, two additional infections in region

EOHU Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Roumeliotis via Zoom

CORNWALL – Following the move by the provincial government to expand testing for COVID-19, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will be testing people with a broader range of possible symptoms. That testing will also cover a broader range of people including spouses of first responders, essential service workers, and vulnerable individuals.

The overall infection level for the EOHU region increased by two people in the past 24 hours. There are 67 people overall who have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 10 are in Cornwall, 16 in SD&G, and 41 in Prescott-Russell. Five people are hospitalized, three are in Intensive Care. There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 in the area.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that he understood the physical distancing measures in place are difficult for many, but they are working.

“We have a more vulnerable population here. I was here with the H1N1 pandemic and we had a lot hospitalized here then,” he said. “I am satisfied with the low numbers here but it means the measures in place are working.”

Roumeliotis said that during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the EOHU area recorded the first deaths from that virus in Ontario and had a higher infection rate than many other areas of the province because of the aging demographics here.

Along with the increase in testing, the health unit is working with local long-term care facilities to help implement the new protocols announced by the Ontario government regarding employees working in multiple homes, patient transfers, and personal protective equipment.

“We have been working with all of our long-term care facilities,” Roumeliotis said. “Making sure they have all the PPE, anything they need.”

He said that while more than half of the deaths in Ontario have been in long-term care homes, there are no outbreaks in the EOHU region.

“We are working hard to make sure this virus does not enter the homes here.”

Testing to date

According to the EOHU total of 969 people have been tested as of the end of April 16th, including 81 tests in Winchester at the assessment centre.

Roumeliotis said that the turnaround time for the tests are falling within the agency’s 24-48 hour window for receiving results, and there are about 300 test results outstanding from the lab.

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