Public Health enhances measures to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the region

Posted on Friday March 13, 2020

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Region of Waterloo Public Health’s Acting Medical Officer of Health is recommending enhanced measures to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the region.

Below is an update on our cases in Waterloo Region, new recommendations from the Province on the testing of people who have traveled and have respiratory symptoms, as well as recommendations for our community.

Current Situation:

The third confirmed case in Waterloo Region, a male in his 40s, was assessed by Public Health and was tested at Grand River Hospital. He was initially well enough to be released from hospital and self-isolate at home, but later in the day returned to hospital as his condition became more serious. He is currently hospitalized and in serious but stable condition.

Additionally, late last night we also received confirmation of our fourth confirmed case. A female in her 50s acquired the illness during travel to France. She developed symptoms upon her return for which she was tested at Grand River Hospital. Hospital staff took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of staff and other patients. The patient was experiencing mild respiratory symptoms and has been released from hospital to self-isolate at home. Public Health is monitoring her, as well as close family members who are not experiencing any symptoms at present.

Update to testing:

Given the evolving situation and the need to ensure that those who may need more elevated levels of care are able to receive the assessment and care that they need, as of late last night, Ontario updated its recommendations for testing. In general, testing will be prioritized for people who need hospital care or certain groups of people such as health care workers or those in long-term care homes or retirement homes.

For most other people who develop fever and/or cough and have traveled to an affected area, testing is no longer recommended. They will still need to remain at home in self-isolation until such time as they are no longer symptomatic for 24 hours.

Recommendations:

By taking these following measures, we have the opportunity to slow the spread of the virus in our community. These recommendations reflect the changing nature of the situation around the world.

It is recommended that:

  • Large gatherings of 250 people or more and all international events be postponed or cancelled.
    • This does not apply to post-secondary institutions and workplaces at this time
    • Post-secondary institutions and workplaces are encouraged to consider increasing flexibility for their students and/or workers to work from home or work remotely should that become recommended in the future
  • Waterloo Region residents postpone all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.
  • Returning travelers to Waterloo Region refrain from:
    • Visiting patients in hospital.
    • Visiting long-term care homes or retirement homes
    • Visiting the elderly or those with chronic health conditions
  • In addition, children who have travelled outside of Canada should not return to child care settings including daycare and camps for 14 days.
  • Returning visitors from Hubei Province (China), Iran and Italy self-isolate for 14 days from their date of return.
  • Returning visitors from all other countries, including the United States, self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from their date of return.

And last but not least, that our residents refuse to participate in the Erza Street party. This uncontrolled party was already a significant risk to the health and safety of our residents. It is even more so now. In this time when we need to ensure our health care and community resources are available to respond to serious needs in our community, I am asking people not to put their own health or these essential resources at risk. Please do your part in helping to protect our community.

Residents are also reminded that Public Health is experiencing high call volumes and you may experience longer wait times on the phone. We apologize for this inconvenience. Public Health has increased staffing significantly in the past days and we are adding additional staff as quickly as possible.

Visit Public Health’s website to learn more information about COVID-19 regionofwaterloo.ca/covid19

 

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