Cornwall Food Basics employee tests positive for COVID-10

CORNWALL — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) says a Food Basics employee has tested positive for COVID-19 at the grocer’s Brookdale Avenue store in Cornwall.

The EOHU is “actively working in cooperation with the Brookdale Food Basics store to assess the risk to store employees and to trace contacts of the individual,” the local health unit says in a press release issued last night, noting the risk to the public “is considered to be low.”

The employee worked day shifts on April 13, 14, 15, 16 and the 18th. That person started to develop symptoms on the 15th and was tested for CVOD-19 two days later, receiving confirmation on the 18th, according to the EOHU.

However, a source close to the involved family, speaking on condition of anonymity, disputes the EOHU’s assertion that the individual showed or developed symptoms of COVID-19. They had sought help for white bumps appearing in the back of their throat, at Cornwall Community Hospital, where a doctor “110 percent” diagnosed it as strep throat and took a swab to confirm it. Experiencing only a “slight tickle” in the back of their throat one night before the bumps appeared, the individual otherwise felt fine and was prescribed antibiotics for strep throat, with no instructions to self-isolate, the source said. They believed they were healthy when they returned to work, only to be “shocked” to learn of the positive result for COVID-19, not knowing they had been tested for the virus, again according to the source.

“As a precaution, shoppers who were at the store on these dates should self-monitor for symptoms. If they start to feel symptoms, they should seek testing,” says Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis.

The infected employee immediately left work and entered isolation upon getting the test result, according to the EOHU, which points out that all recommended public health measures were in place at the store throughout that person’s time on the job while infected. “Appropriate additional cleaning and disinfection” measures are being undertaken at the store.

“Although we feel that the risk to the public is low, we’re releasing this information so that shoppers who were at the Brookdale Food Basics during this period are aware,” says Dr. Roumeliotis.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, muscle aches and more. Testing is offered at a number of COVID-19 assessment centres in the region. Locations and hours of the assessment centres are available on the EOHU’s website. Anyone presenting with symptoms, who was at the store on the previously mentioned dates, should indicate to the assessment centre that they were potentially exposed.

It’s the second food-related establishment in the city to experience a brush with the virus. The Tim Horton’s outlet at Tollgate Rd. and Pitt St. was closed last Thursday for cleaning after an employee tested positive at that establishment. Both cases are examples of community spread unrelated to travel, the medical officer of health said in a media briefing today.

Cornwall itself has 10 cases of COVID-19, out of the 67 recorded to date in the EOHU’s jurisdiction. The total includes 16 in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and 41 in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. Dr. Roumeliotis has attributed the higher number in Prescott and Russell to its proximity to Ottawa, which has a higher rate of infection.

Five people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the EOHU coverage are, with three of those in intensive care. Twenty-seven individuals have now emerged from infection and are now counted as resolved. The virus has not yet taken a single life in the EOHU region.

This article was updated to include information from the anonymous source close to the family of the infected individual.

Below, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis addresses the situation in a special media briefing today.
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