The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is expected to return to the colour-coded COVID management system after more than a month in a province-wide shutdown.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is expected to return to the colour-coded COVID management system after more than a month in a province-wide shutdown.

Stay-at-home order's end in sight

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
More businesses in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) area are expected to open next week after the Ontario government announced a gradual relaxing of COVID-19 measures.

Most provincial health units, including the EOHU, would return to the government’s colour-coded management system after Tuesday, February 16, depending on COVID trends over the coming days. The government chose not to extend Ontario’s state of emergency past February 9, but stay at home orders would be gradually removed based on a regional approach.

It is not known what colour the EOHU will move to once the stay-at-home order ends. The region’s COVID case count, transmission rate and rolling average was significantly lower than a mid-January high of 695 active cases. As of Monday, trends indicated the region would be placed into the red "control” zone.

EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the government would determine which colour the region entered based on data from Tuesday, February 9. He said additional restrictions could be added to prevent the spread of more contagious variants that had entered Ontario.

“We are bordering that red zone at this point in time,” he said. “But for now, until the 16th, it is the status quo in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and we are awaiting the final decision as to how we end up.”

Even if the region moved back into the grey “lockdown” level of the colour-coded scale, in-person shopping would be permitted under new rules the province published on Monday. Retailers did not primarily sell groceries or medical supplies, except for convenience stores, were limited to 25 percent capacity and needed to publicly signal the total number of shoppers permitted inside. Curbside pick-up and delivery would still be permitted.

The province’s shutdown measures began on December 26. A stay-at-home order and state of emergency was declared on January 12, which added additional enforcement measures.

Schools and outbreaks

As of Monday, École secondaire publique Le Sommet in Hawkesbury recorded a single student case of COVID-19. No school outbreaks had been declared in the region.

Outbreaks continued at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Plantagenet, Valoris-211 Russell Road in Cheney, Rideau Place in Hawkesbury, Manoir Carillion in Chute-à-Blondeau, and Centre d'Acceuil Roger Segin in Clarence Creek. Most outbreaks were staff cases.

Twenty-three people were in hospital, though none were in intensive care. One of those patients was at Hawkesbury, while the remainder were in hospitals in Cornwall or Ottawa.

The region

The EOHU recorded 185 active cases on Monday, a drop of 34 since Friday. Of those active cases, 44 were recorded in Prescott-Russell, including:

  • 11 in Clarence-Rockland
  • 9 in Hawkesbury
  • 7 in Alfred-Plantagenet
  • 6 in Champlain
  • 4 in East Hawkesbury
  • 4 in Russell
  • 3 in The Nation, and
  • 0 in Casselman.