“It is not ‘business as usual,’” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical health officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), during his daily telephone conference with media April 6.
Dr. Roumeliotis urged families to abandon their traditional plans for spending the Easter long weekend, whether those plans involves visiting relatives or attending church. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to increase for Eastern Ontario, with a total of 44 as of Monday afternoon, including five people receiving hospital treatment, and Dr. Roumeliotis expects there will be more cases although he hopes that the region has passed its peak surge period.
“The next two weeks are going to be pivotal for us,” he said.
The EOHU has opened five assessment centres as part of its pandemic strategy for the region and may have a sixth centre in place soon. Right now people who display symptoms of COVID-19 can go for assessment and confirmation at testing centres in Hawkesbury, Casselman, Rockland, Winchester, and Cornwall. The EOHU is looking at setting up a centre in Glengarry County, possibly in Alexandria.
Dr. Roumeliotis noted that health care facilities for Prescott-Russell and Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry have enough sterile masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for about a week-and-a-half. More PPE supplies are expected soon but the EOHU has confirmed a federal directive for all health care facilities to re-use PPE gear if necessary after proper decontamination.
Dr. Roumeliotis also echoed the latest views of provincial and federal health officials about the value of homemade masks during the pandemic situation for when people go outside of their homes for grocery shopping and other necessary errands.
Homemade masks are useful for helping prevent someone from coughing or sneezing on others but it may not prevent them from being infected from a cough or sneeze if any of the spray particles hit them in the eyes or land on exposed skin. Dr. Roumeliotis urged residents to maintain social distancing if they must be outside and also continue thorough and frequent hand-washing to reduce their risk of COVID-19 infection.