The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) issued a statement March 28 confirming five more cases of COVID-19, which brought the total for the Eastern Ontario region to nine at the time. Since then one more case has been confirmed, bringing the total to 10. All cases so far involve people from the Prescott-Russell area but residents elsewhere in the region should continue to practice pandemic precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
“We know that there is community spread of COVID-19 elsewhere in Ontario and Canada,” stated Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief medical health officer, “and we believe that our area is no exception. I want to make it clear that while the new cases are in the Prescott-Russell area, residents in the rest of the region should not feel that their risk is lower. We strongly urge everyone to continue staying at home as much as possible, and practise physical distancing to reduce the threat of spread.”
The latest confirmed COVID-19 cases include four people with no travel history, which EOHU officials indicate means they may have contracted the disease in their own communities. The latest case is a woman in her 30s, who had returned from a trip to the United States and is now in mandatory quarantine. One of the six most recent confirmed COVID-19 cases is at the Cornwall Community Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Dr. Roumeliotis noted that the latest increase in COVID-19 cases is not unexpected. The EOHU has “hundreds of test results” waiting analysis from its testing centres throughout the region, and more cases may be confirmed as some residents arrive home from their travels abroad.
Dr. Roumeliotis emphasized that anyone now returning to Eastern Ontario from trips outside of Canada must go into mandatory 14-day self-isolation under the Quarantine Act. The mandatory quarantine applies whether a person shows COVID-19 symptoms or not.
The EOHU urges residents to stay at home if possible and avoid unnecessary travel. Anyone in quarantine should get help from family, friends, their municipality, or social agencies for the necessary groceries, medications, and other supplies needed so they can stay at home without putting anyone else at risk until their mandatory quarantine ends.
Anyone who thinks they might have COVID-19 symptoms should first use the Ontario Self-Assessment Tool through the provincial government website to check if they might have the virus. Then call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or their family doctor for further advice, or call the EOHU help line at 1-800-267-7120, The EOHU website at EOHU.ca/coronavirus has information on prevention, testing centres, and other advice.