EOHU: Slower reopening preferred

February 19, 2021 map of active and total COVID-19 infections in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region. (Supplied/Eastern Ontario Health Unit)

CORNWALL – While COVID-19 variants have not been detected in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region, a slower approach to reopening is still preferred. The health unit region, which saw non-essential businesses reopen Tuesday, is currently at the Orange-Restrict level of restrictions under Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening framework. Do not expect those restrictions to be further eased back anytime soon.

Dr. Paul Remeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU told reporters February 18th that even though the region technically is in the Yellow-Protect level based on local statistics, any move will not be decided until next week at the earliest. The decision to move a region into a new level of restrictions is made by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, in consultation with a region’s MOH.

At the same time, the EOHU has issued new self-isolation requirements in response to the new COVID-19 variants. If someone is a high-risk contact who must quarantine, all household members of that family are asked to stay at home for the duration of that contact’s isolation period except for essential reasons. If someone has to be tested for COVID-19 and has symptoms, all members of that person’s household must isolate until the person receives a negative result. If a test is recommended but not taken, the person must isolate for 10 days from the time symptoms show, and all members of that household must quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with that person. And if the person showing symptoms cannot self-isolate from the rest of the household, the entire household must quarantine for 14 days after the person with symptoms ends their isolation period.

As of the February 19th update from the EOHU, there are 130 active cases, a increase of  15 cases from 115  Thursday. Eleven people are hospitalized, one in the intensive care unit. The rolling seven-day average per 100,000 of new infections sits at 21.4/100,000 and the reproductive rate is 0.89.

In South Dundas there are four active cases, North Dundas six, and South Stormont has 22. Most of the cases in South Stormont are linked to the outbreak at the Woodland Villa in Long Sault. This week, two additional residents of that facility have died. That increased the death toll at Woodland Villa to six, and overall death toll for the region to 67 people. Woodland Villa is one of nine facilities currently in outbreak for COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in any facilities located in Dundas County.

One outbreak was declared in a school in the EOHU later Friday. The Upper Canada District School Board issued a release that an outbreak was declared at Glengarry District High School after a third case had been diagnosed. The third case is related to at least one other case in the school, which led to the outbreak being declared. A school is considered in an outbreak when there are two or more cases that have an epidemiological link to each other. The GDHS outbreak is the first to be declared in a school since class returned two weeks ago.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated after publication to reflect the declaration of outbreak at GDHS.

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