Grey-Bruce MOH takes fourth COVID case in stride

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health James Masters / James Masters Photography

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On a day Grey-Bruce learned of a fourth local confirmed case of COVID-19, Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Ian Arra said he expects more cases to come, and while he remains “concerned,” the “sky is not falling.”

By 10:30 a.m. Monday, a fourth case of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce was confirmed by the Grey Bruce Health Unit. It was a travel-related case in which the female was tested on the day she landed. She’s self-isolating now.

So far there’s no evidence of community spread of the disease Dr. Ian Arra said.

“The sky is not falling,” Arra said. “But there are all indications that would say with the data that we see from different countries in the world that this disease is going to get worse before its gets better.”

There were 489 confirmed cases across Ontario, six deaths due to the virus and eight people have recovered. Another 8,417 cases are under investigation in the province.

The health unit issued a news release Monday which “urgently reminds” returning international travellers to self-isolate for 14 days by staying at home, avoiding contact with others and monitoring for symptoms of the disease, even mild ones.

See Health Canada’s self-assessment tool at https://ca.thrive.health/covid19/en Ontario

“It seems some people are coming back from travel and they’re not following the provincial direction of self-isolation for 14 days,” Arra said in an interview. They should get someone to do their shopping for them so they can stay home, he agreed.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday all non-essential businesses must close as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Ford said the sorts of businesses considered essential will be announced Tuesday.

The province has already closed bars and restaurants unless they offer takeout, schools, licensed daycares, theatres, concert venues, gyms and forbidden organized public gatherings of more than 50 people.

Ford said Monday he doesn’t think students would be return to school April 6, after their extended March Break.

Arra said the further tightening of places allowed to remain open is welcome, though a week or two before Grey-Bruce is anticipated to see community spread of the disease such as the larger cities are seeing now.

“Implementing them here will only give us more, added benefit.”

Arra also welcomed Bruce County’s declaration of a state of emergency, if only because it heightens awareness of the need to do those things everyone’s asked to do.

Bruce County Warden Mitch Twolan declared a state of emergency Monday due to the threat presented by COVID-19, he announced in a news release.

“Bruce County will now have additional tools and resources to coordinate and mobilize quickly. We will also have the flexibility to re-deploy staff, if required. I want to emphasize that this is a precautionary step at the time. None of these actions are necessary now.”

We’re all supposed to keep two metres distance from others, self-isolate if you feel sick (cough, shortness of breath, fever are key COVID-19 symptoms), go to a COVID-19 assessment centre if you can’t cope at home or to an emergency department if it’s an emergency.

“I do believe what’s going to flatten the curve for all of us is nothing but advice that our mothers and grandmothers have already given us,” Arra said. “Wash your hands, wash your hands. Cough into your sleeve. Stay home if you’re sick.”

The health unit started posting to Instagram on Monday and by doing so hopes to gauge how teens who may not be tuned in to the seriousness of the pandemic are feeling and what they’re doing.

Arra also expressed frustration that someone pranked public health officials by impersonating a police officer. Public health officials wasted time determining the story of a party held purportedly to infect people to build immunity was bogus, he said.

Meanwhile, no one has reported to the OPP in Grey-Bruce gatherings of people or open businesses forbidden under the provincial state of emergency declaration, both detachment commanders said in phone interviews Monday.

“So it seems that much of the public are heeding the warnings so far,” Acting Insp. Jennifer Ormsby, of the Grey Bruce OPP detachment, said Monday by phone.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are out walking and utilizing our trail systems, etc. We certainly hope that members of the public are thinking about social isolation and social distancing when they’re doing that.”

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, fines range include $750 to an individual convicted of failing to comply with an order made during an emergency under that legislation. There’s a $1,000 fine for obstruction of a person exercising a power in accordance of the emergency order. Corporations can be fined up to $500,000.

South Bruce OPP Insp. Krista Miller said there have been no reports of large gatherings or of businesses open when they’re supposed to be closed in her area. She finds people are taking the threat of this virus seriously.

“We would like the public to understand that there are consequences for individuals and businesses who don’t follow the expectations of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the guidelines that have been put out . . . .”

She hopes people continue to comply “and we will apply discretion whether to launch any enforcement actions moving forward.”

 

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