Have COVID-19 symptoms? Awaiting a test result? 14 days isolation, under new EOHU orders

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis stands in front of a graph showing the undesired peak development of COVID-19 cases, versus the flattened-out effect officials hope to achieve, with cases developing over a longer, more manageable period of time. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has imposed two new orders on the region, compelling self-isolation of individuals with COVID-19 symptoms — whether they’ve been tested or not — and their close contacts. The second order pertains to the operators of grocery stores and pharmacies.

Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis has invoked section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), to require that people “experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, isolate themselves from other people until they are no longer infectious or potentially infectious.”

In effect since midnight last night, the EOHU orders are based “on an increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the EOHU region, as well as projections shared by the government of Ontario on April 3rd that show public health measures are working to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the province,” says the EOHU.

“I have issued this Order … as the next two weeks are a crucial time for us as a community to come
together and collectively flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, adding that “these reinforced isolation measures will reduce the risk of individuals infected with COVID-19 spreading the virus to others.”

This first part of the order mandates the standard 14 days of isolation, in accordance with EOHU directives, for the following individuals residing or present in the EOHU area in the following circumstances (some exceptions may apply):

• Anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and has been tested for COVID-19 but is
awaiting results of that test;
• Anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe they have symptoms of COVID-19;
• Anyone who is a close contact of a person identified in the points above;

They must also keep away from vulnerable persons, and conduct themselves in a way that does not expose another person to infection or potential infection from COVID-19, by following infection control instructions, says the EOHU.

Dr. Roumeliotis’s second order involves new measures for in-store crowd control, hygiene and screening at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies. “Ensuring that grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies follow infection prevention measures will further prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19,” he says. The targeted operations will also have to abide by new rules for in-store signage, and physical-distancing and hoarding-prevention among customers.

The Medical Officer of Health’s new orders are on top of the newly curtailed list of “essential” business allowed to remain open in Ontario after 11:59 p.m. this evening (April 4).

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