ALEXANDRIA — SDG’s first case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed and treated at Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, bringing the number of cases in Ontario to 103 as of today.
In her 30s, the woman from Prescott and Russell counties attended the hospital’s emergency department March 12 with “mild symptoms” that developed after her return from New York City. The patient was tested and released into self-isolation, where she remains, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which describes the woman’s condition as “improving.”
She developed a cough and generalized aches and pains two days after her March 9 arrival back in Canada, the EOHU says in a press release issued this evening.
“The hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including infection control, testing, and assessment,” the EOHU says, adding it is “actively engaged in the process of following up with a small number” of the woman’s close contacts.
The emergence of a COVID-19 case in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry — the first in Eastern Ontario outside Ottawa — comes as no surprise to local health officials, who have been preparing for the bug to turn up. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health, conceded last week that between 30 and 70 percent Canadians could ultimately become infected with the respiratory illness. He reiterated again this evening that the virus currently represents a low risk to residents of the EOHU jurisdiction.
“Having a confirmed case in our area is not unexpected given the transmission of this virus around the world,” says Dr. Roumeliotis. “This is a case imported from outside of Canada. Our current containment process aims to identify and isolate individuals to limit the spread into our community and it is working.”
“At this point, we do not have any local community spread and the risk remains low for our region,” the doctor says. “We will continue to work collectively through personal hygiene precautions and community-based public health measures (such as social distancing, school closures and limiting mass gatherings) to contain the virus as much as possible.”
The development comes as the EOHU has yet to roll out several planned COVID-19 testing centres for residents who feel under the weather. The Medical Officer of Health has said he intended to open at least one as soon as the coming week.
In the meantime, the EOHU posted on social media yesterday reminding residents that its offices are not conducting such tests. Individuals looking to be tested — because they have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing — are currently being told to call Telehealth Ontario or the EOHU’s main number (see below).
The current lack of local testing centres is a concern to a reader in rural North Dundas who tells NVN they have been helping a nearby “family friend” who isn’t feeling well after arriving home from a trip to Germany a week ago. The reader, who communicated on condition of anonymity, says they’ve been leaving food at the end of the isolated — but untested — individual’s driveway. That person has “a dry cough and is in fear, obviously,” the reader reports.
This article has been updated with information released by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit on Saturday evening, March 14.