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COVID-19 Suspected in Community. All Residents Can Help Stop the Spread.

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/March 16, 2020 – 10:55 a.m. 

As the result of several changes in provincial guidelines related to COVID-19 screening and testing, Public Health officials strongly suspect that COVID-19 is circulating in the community and are advising all members of the public to recognize that there is a time limited opportunity to slow down the local spread of the virus.

While there have been no lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community at this time, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has identified 35 probable cases of COVID-19 in the region. These individuals have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days and until symptoms resolve. In addition, travel related cases have been lab confirmed in nearby public health unit jurisdictions, such as in Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

On Friday March 13, the Ministry of Health broadened the definition for a probable case of COVID-19. A probable case is defined as a person with a fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or a cough and any of the following within 14 days prior to onset of illness:

  • travel to an impacted area, or
  • close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, or
  • close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to an impacted area.

In addition, lab test results are no longer required to screen an individual as a probable case. The recent implementation of a dial-in screening service at HPEPH has expedited the screening process while quickly and efficiently identifying probable cases.

As screening for probable cases no longer requires lab testing, it is possible that not all of the identified probable cases are COVID-19. However, the emergence of local probable cases reinforces the need for all community members to practice precautions, including social distancing, hand hygiene, and infection control. As many probable cases are related to travel, this data also reinforces the need for returning travellers to comply with the self-isolation advisory issued by HPEPH yesterday, as well as existing provincial self-isolation requirements. The recent advisory calls for all individuals who are returning from any travel outside of Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Everyone can contribute to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“We want the community to know that while we suspect the virus is in our community, we can slow the spread locally. We are calling on everyone in our community to do their part and help keep the risk low in our community”, says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “This means practicing regular infection control, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, working from home if possible, and staying home when you are sick.”

Individuals who are concerned that they may have COVID-19 are advised to visit hpePublicHealth.ca for more information. If they have recently travelled or have been in close contact with an individual who has a probable/confirmed case, individuals are asked to contact HPEPH at 613-966-5500 for more information and guidance.

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Media Contact:
Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager
vmontgomery@hpeph.ca

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 are currently eligible to book a first dose appointment. Individuals aged 70 and over as well as anyone who received their first vaccine on or before April 18th are now eligible to book their second dose on an accelerated schedule. To book, visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call  1-833-943-3900.

There is currently a high demand for vaccination appointments in our region. If no appointments are available, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when new clinic dates are added. Please do not call HPEPH to book. For more information, please visit  hpePublicHealth.ca/vaccine-booking/

If you attended a clinic and did not receive an email copy of your vaccination receipt you can download a copy off the provincial booking site at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine.

PHARMACY-BASED VACCINATIONS

Individuals 18 and over can also receive their vaccination at participating local pharmacies. Select pharmacies are also offering vaccinations to youth aged 12 – 17. Please visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations for location and registration information.

CURRENT RESTRICTIONS IN HPEPH

Based on the provincewide vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health and health system indicators, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, will move the province into Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021. For more information, read the media release.

While the provincial Stay at Home Order has been lifted, public health precautions must be maintained. Close contact must be limited to those within your household. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 5 people, and distancing must be maintained. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO COVID-19?

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.