EASTERN ONTARIO — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit area saw its first intensive-care hospitalization due to the coronavirus yesterday. Now convalescing at the Cornwall Community Hospital, the patient is among five newly identified COVID-19 infections reported by the agency March 28 — more than doubling the number of cases recorded in the region, to nine.
Four people had previously tested positive in the EOHU coverage area, including one officially recovered person who has completed the requisite 14-day quarantine period. All cases to date have been in Prescott-Russell, including the latest batch.
Of the five new infections, four do not involve travel and are believed to be examples of community spread, according to the EOHU, which is again reminding the public of the importance of following public health advisories on staying home and physical distancing. One patient is currently in intensive care at the Cornwall Community Hospital.
“We know that there is community spread of COVID-19 elsewhere in Ontario and Canada, and we believe that our area is no exception,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health.
The increase in cases was not unexpected, and the EOHU is currently waiting hundreds of test results for residents across its territory. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told the media Friday that they are waiting for about 350 outstanding tests.
The EOHU expects the numbers to grow not just in Prescott-Russell but throughout the region. “I want to make it clear that while the new cases are in the Prescott-Russell area, residents in the rest of the region should not feel that their risk is lower,” the doctor said, following the news of the latest growth in cases. “We strongly encourage everyone to continue staying at home as much as possible, and practise physical distancing to reduce the threat of spread.”
The EOHU again urges residents to remain at home and avoid all non-essential outings. When going out for absolute essentials like groceries and medication, everyone must maintain a minimum distance of two metres (six feet) from one another. A 14-day quarantine is also now mandatory for all Canadians returning from travel outside of the country. Returning travellers must go straight home upon their return to the country, and rely on help from family, friends, their municipality and local agencies for anything they need.
The number of confirmed cases in Ontario rose by 211 to 1,355 on Sunday, the largest single increase since the pandemic crisis took hold in the province.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis also reported Friday that planned COVID-19 testing/assessment centres are set to open early this week in Winchester and Cornwall. The centres are intended to take pressure off hospital emergency rooms as visits increase by individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 infection. In Winchester, he said, the number of people entering that community’s hospital with “COVID-like” symptoms is now about three or four a day.
As of Friday, visits to local emergency departments in the EOHU region were actually down overall compared with last year at this time, the doctor reported.