22 new COVID cases over last weekend

Stephen Jeffery
EAP
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) area recorded more than double the new COVID-19 cases over the weekend compared to the same period last week.

Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the 25 new cases, 22 of which were recorded in Prescott-Russell, were concentrated in areas close to Ottawa. He said between six and eight of the new cases were tied to a single party, while others came from clusters or were found in those who commuted to either Ottawa or Quebec.

Despite the sharp rise in cases, only two people were hospitalized as of Monday afternoon, and neither were in intensive care. Two sole cases remained ongoing at institutional facilities; one at Residence L'Erabliere in Limoges, and the other at Foyer St-Jacques Nursing Home in Embrun. The weekend cases brought the region’s total number of cases since the pandemic began to 299.

Province-wide changes made on Friday require everyone to wear masks in workplaces where adequate physical distancing is not possible, as well as on all public transport and in shopping centres. Dr. Roumeliotis said it was not yet necessary to locally implement additional rules imposed on Ottawa, Peel and Toronto, which cut capacity in gyms, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Dr. Roumeliotis had previously called for the region to impose the same lockdowns as Ottawa if that city reverted to stage 2, but he said the rules imposed last week did not create enough of a difference between the two regions. The availability of hospital beds, strong contact tracing and small community spread did not justify further restrictions at this stage, he said.

“Our numbers are going up, but we have not had any from restaurants, bars, or event halls or gymnasiums in our area,” he said. “Those parameters address our issues locally. I do not think that at this point I would want to move forward in instituting some of the changes that happened in Ottawa, Peel or Toronto. I do not think we’ll have people from Ottawa come to our area because the restaurants have less capacity.”

Dr. Roumeliotis did, however, have a blunt message for anyone planning to visit from a red zone in Quebec. “Don’t come here,” he said. “I got another email from one of the mayors about it as well because, in the end, they shouldn’t even be coming here. Stay at home; you can’t leave the red zone.”

All COVID-19 assessment centres in the region have become appointment-only services, after the province changed requirements last week. All testing at Casselman is expected to move to the Calypso Water Park parking lot by Wednesday. Dr. Roumeliotis said the appointment-only model would help prioritize symptomatic patients.