EOHU: Avoid traditional ways of celebrating Halloween

October 16th map of COVID-19 cases in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region. (Supplied/Eastern Ontario Health Unit)

CORNWALL – As COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket in the region, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is now recommending people avoid traditional Halloween activities.

In a press release issued Friday evening (October 16th), the EOHU says that families should choose safer alternatives than trick-or-treating.

“I understand that kids as well as many adults look forward to Halloween at this time of year, but we want everyone to remain safe,” said EOHU medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise, this means finding ways to celebrate that don’t increase the risk of spreading the virus.”

Other guidance issued by the EOHU concerning Halloween include not hosting Halloween parties; have virtual online Halloween events; and having an at-home candy treasure hunt for your own family.

In weeks prior, Roumeliotis said that trick-or-treating would be OK if physical distancing guidelines and non-contact handing out treats was followed. However, a rise in COVID-19 cases has caused a re-think of that plan.

Provincial infection numbers have remained at or above 700 new cases per day for the last week, even after Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa moved into a modified Stage 2 plan last week. The province announced that York Region would also move into the same modified plan starting October 19th, for a 28 day period.

There have already been 100 new infections in the EOHU region – which includes SDG Counties, Prescott-Russell, and the City of Cornwall – since the beginning of October. Infection rates are outpacing September which had 108 new infections, the highest amount since the pandemic began.

There have been 409 cases of COVID-19 in the EOHU overall, 134 of which are currently active. Locally in South Dundas, the EOHU adjusted its overall case numbers downward. Roumeliotis told The Leader that an error had placed results in the wrong municipality.

There have been fewer than five cases overall in South Dundas, one of which is active. North Dundas has had 17 cases overall, one is active. Two-thirds of all COVID-19 cases are in Prescott-Russell. Five people are currently hospitalized, one is in Intensive Care.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in Sandfield Place Retirement Home and St-Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre (Kane House) in Cornwall, The Palace Retirement Home in Alexandria, Residence Prescott-Russell in Hawkesbury, and Foyer St-Jacques Nursing Home in Embrun.

There are nine cases of COVID-19 in schools in the EOHU region, eight people from the French-Catholic at schools in Russell and Clarence-Rockland. The other case is a person in the Upper Canada District School Board in Clarence-Rockland. There are no outbreaks in any daycares in the region.

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