The 43 new cases pushed the number of active cases in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) to 178. In contrast, there were 117 cases at the same time last week. The region recorded two fewer new cases on Friday than the neighbouring but far more populous city of Ottawa.
Twenty of the new cases were recorded in Prescott-Russell, centred on sharp rises in The Nation and Russell municipalities. The Nation accounted for seven of the new cases, while Russell recorded an additional six.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said most of the cases could be traced back to known contacts, including spreads in households where one person had already tested positive. But he said the spike was concerning after a week of growth.
“In Prescott-Russell, we have household contacts being the primary link, family links as well,” he said. “We have some new cases that we’ve seen that may be from trips to Quebec, trips to Montreal with people who aren’t protected. There is an epi-link to most of these, but the numbers are overwhelming. This is still a huge burden of illness and infection in our community.”
The EOHU is expected to spend at least another week in Ontario’s yellow “protect” zone, but Dr. Roumeliotis said that could change if the numbers did not drop over the coming days. He urged residents to avoid travel to other areas, especially those with higher infection rates.
Cases in six students and one staff member were linked to an ongoing outbreak at the École élémentaire catholique de Casselman - Pavilion Saint-Paul/Sainte-Euphémie. Five staff members had also tested positive at an outbreak at École élémentaire catholique Saint-Isidore.
Other school cases in the area included two students at École élémentaire catholique Embrun - Pavilion Saint-Jean/Pavilion La Croisée, and one student case each at École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Trinité in Clarence-Rockland, École secondaire publique Le Sommet in Hawkesbury, and École secondaire catholique de Casselman.
No new cases were reported at the Prescott and Russell Residence, which was the site of the only remaining outbreak in long term care or retirement homes in the region. Eighty-five of the 109 resident cases had been resolved, as had 66 of the 68 staff cases. Red Cross and EMS crews continued to assist with staffing at the Hawkesbury residence.
The Limoges COVID-19 testing centre at the Calypso water park will return to the EOHU in Casselman on Monday, December 14. The Casselman site, which was originally a drive-thru testing centre, would be turned into an indoor facility during the winter months.
Dr. Roumeliotis said the move would better accommodate both staff and members of the public as colder conditions arrived. The Limoges site will stop offering tests on Friday, December 11 at 12 p.m. Tests at the Casselman site would be appointment only when it began operations at 8 a.m. on December 14.
Of the 178 active cases in the EOHU area on Friday, 90 were reported in Prescott-Russell communities, including:
23 in Hawkesbury;
16 in Russell;
15 in Casselman;
15 in The Nation;
13 in Clarence-Rockland;
5 in Champlain;
3 in Alfred-Plantagenet, and;
0 in East Hawkesbury.
Another update from the EOHU was expected on Tuesday.