Watch: Eastern Ontario may retreat into ‘modified Stage 2,’ says medical officer of health; Dr. Roumeliotis recommends against trick-or-treating; expounds on rising infection rate

EASTERN ONTARIO — Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis all but predicts his Eastern Ontario jurisdiction will retreat back into a modified version of Stage 2 pandemic restrictions, in his latest media update, Oct. 16. (Watch above).

“We’re getting up into the high transmission zone at this point in time, and we are seriously considering — in speaking with the ministry and speaking with some of our partners as to what the next steps would be — which may be us going back into Stage 2 as well,” said Roumeliotis, noting a rise in cases. “And this is something we’re in discussions with at this point.”

In the clip below, Dr. Roumeliotis acknowledges discussions about putting Eastern Ontario into modified Stage 2, following the example of Peel, Toronto, Ottawa and — as of this Monday — York region.

As of Friday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region had recorded a total of 409 positive tests for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic — 134 of them currently active, including eight cases added that day (six in Prescott and Russell and two in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry).

The region hit a new monthly infection peak in September — with 108 cases diagnosed that month. October appears on pace to top that number, with 100 cases reached by the 16th.

While five seniors’ homes in the region account for 47 of those October cases, the medical officer of health notes they’re a less significant percentage when measured as part of the 200 cases recorded since the beginning of September. “The rest were in the community,” Dr. Roumeliotis pointed out, also highlighting a rising positivity rate and a more recent jump in cases outside of long-term care facilities. “Between yesterday and today, we added 26 cases, and only a couple were in [seniors’] residences.”

New lockdown restrictions confer “very little benefit” when a community is at the “moderate” transmission level, but the figures suggest Eastern Ontario now falls outside that category, according to the doctor. He contrasted the moderate weekly rate of between five and 25 new infections per 100,000 population with the current situation in his jurisdiction. “If you look at our numbers today, we’re actually at 42,” he exclaimed, adding there “is value” to closing bars, restaurants and gyms — a return to Stage 2 —  when the weekly case rate climbs above 25.

Seniors’ residences with current outbreaks include the Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury (31 cases and one death); The Palace Retirement Community (eight cases); and Foyer St. Jacques Nursing Home. St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre and Sandfield Place — both in Cornwall — have also posted one case apiece after two residents coincidentally went to hospital for other reasons and routine testing discovered them to be positive for the virus.

The EOHU’s recorded COVID-19 cases and locations on Oct. 16.





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