/Public should remain diligent during pandemic: health unit 

Public should remain diligent during pandemic: health unit 

By Sue Tiffin

Haliburton County’s total confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are unresolved remained at one at press time, after a new case appeared – the first since April – last week.
That case is now also considered resolved. At press time there were also two community high-risk contacts in Haliburton County reported in the June 9 data of the Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Pine Ridge district health unit, down from five last week.
“High-risk contacts are defined as asymptomatic individuals who are known to have been in contact with a confirmed or probable case,” Chandra Tremblay, HKPR manager, corporate services, communications and IT told the Times.
“These people would have been identified when the health unit spoke with the confirmed case and they identified people they were in contact with during their infectious period.”
Tremblay said the high-risk contacts are then contacted by health unit staff, and asked to get tested and self-isolate.
“Health unit staff will work with the local assessment centre to ensure they are prepared for the person to arrive for testing and that supports are then put in place for the person to remain in self-isolation for 14 days,” said Tremblay. “If the high-risk contact person’s test comes back as a positive, they will become a confirmed case and that will be reflected in the health unit’s numbers. If the person remains in self-isolation for 14 days and remains asymptomatic or their test comes back as negative, after 14 days they are no longer captured as a high-risk contact that the health unit is following and do not need to remain in self-isolation.”
The eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Haliburton County – seven which were deemed resolved by April 25 – were Haliburton County residents, with any positive tests of people within the county who have a permanent residence elsewhere being added to the data of the health unit of their permanent address.
“The person is not required to return to their permanent residence to self-isolate if they are already located at a secondary residence or someone else’s residence in Haliburton County,” said Tremblay. “Our staff would work with the person and the staff from their home health unit to ensure they are able to remain in isolation and have the supports required so they
would not need to venture out into the community – someone to pick up
groceries, medications, etc.”
As has been previously reported in the Times, Tremblay said the province has expanded the testing strategy enabling increased testing and with that there will be additional cases of positive asymptomatic people confirmed.
Last week, Dr. Norm Bottum of the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team responded to a question from the Times about what the public should know at this time.
“The message is, COVID-19 is not going away and will continue to appear
periodically,” he said. “We don’t know when or where usually, so we all
have to do our part to minimize picking up or spreading the virus, i.e.
social distance, hand washing, wear a mask when shopping.”
Tremblay said it is important for the public to recognize that many people who have the virus do not have symptoms.
“This makes it important for people to continue to follow public health measures of maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask when they are out and unable to guarantee they can remain six feet from others, washing their hands frequently and staying home if they are ill,” she said. “We have been lucky to not have a large number of confirmed cases in Haliburton County unlike other areas of the province, but we need to continue to be diligent to stop the spread.”
“It is not the most sick patients we have to worry about, they will be sick at home or in hospital,” said Bottum. “It is the least sick who minimize their symptoms and continue to be active in our community and unaware.”
Last week, the new confirmed case of COVID-19 – was rumoured to have been hospitalized, but Bottum said that was untrue, though there has previously been a hospitalization amongst the positive local cases, and people requiring oxygen therapy can be admitted to a local hospital.
“If they are unstable and possibly headed for intubation, they would be referred to an intensive care unit with capacity to accept, i.e. not always Peterborough,” said Bottum.
Tremblay asked that besides remaining diligent, the public prepare for another possible influx of COVID-19 infections.
“People also need to prepare for an anticipated second wave of the virus in the fall,” said Tremblay. “The province, public health and local health partners are putting plans in place in anticipation of the second wave, which could be a challenge given the fall is typically the beginning of the influenza season.”