Forty-three cases at Al Rashid Islamic Institute hike South Glengarry COVID-19 numbers; EOHU pandemic tally now exceeds 1,000

Orange-Restrict starts Monday

EASTERN ONTARIO — As was predicted in his last media briefing at the beginning of the week, Dr Paul Roumeliotis confirmed yesterday (December 11th) that cumulative cases for Eastern Ontario have exceeded a thousand, landing at 1,076. Ten cases have been added since yesterday, four of which are in SDG, four in Cornwall, and two in Prescott.

There are currently 292 active cases of COVID-19 in the region.

Seventeen publicly funded schools have a combined 37 cases — while a dormitory at the private Al Rashid Islamic Institute — east of Cornwall — has 43 cases. Roumeliotis believes the latter outbreak — initially counted in Cornwall but now corrected to South Glengarry — is connected to a staff member with symptoms being on the premises of the Institute.

Not every school with a case or cases is counted as an “outbreak,” which requires at least two linked infections to qualify for that definition in a school setting. However, schools do represent “several” of the 10 outbreaks now in progress in the doctor’s area of jurisdiction. Only one school has been closed to date, in Casselman.

École élémentaire catholique Saint-Isidore (eight staff, five students) and École élémentaire catholique La Source in Moose Creek (one staff, one studen) are among the schools with cases.

Outbreaks in Cornwall long-term care homes and retirement homes are continuing at Prescott and Russell Residence, Parisien Manor, Royal Manor Rest Home, and St-Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre. Heritage Heights and The Palace Long Term Care Home in Alexandria reported outbreaks yesterday, joined today by the Tsiionkwanonhso:te long-term care home in Akwesasne, where three staff members tested positive. Only one case is required to be defined as an outbreak in a nursing home.

Excluding Prescott and Russell counties, the doctor noted no current active cases among residents of nursing homes within the EOHU — including those with outbreaks. Staff currently represent all cases in those homes, he said, highlighting the fact to illustrate how the virus “comes from the community, not from the home.” Cases come from the outside, going into those homes, he reiterated, dismissing the suggestion that pandemic restrictions in the community are unwarranted.

In response to this increase in COVID-19 cases, especially among vulnerable populations, Eastern Ontario will go into to Orange-Restrict zone on Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:01 AM. No visits to long term care homes will be permitted while in the Orange Zone, and all long-term care workers must be tested for the disease weekly. Roumeliotis said he doesn’t anticipate Eastern Ontario returning to Yellow-Protect zone for at least a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the EOHU is continuing to prepare for the arrival of the vaccine by purchasing fridges for storage of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and working closely with the Ottawa Hospital, where health care workers will start receiving the Pfizer vaccine on December 15th. Roumeliotis expects to begin vaccinating Eastern Ontario’s general population in early spring, once high-risk populations have received them. However, he emphasized the importance of taking precautions and continuing the following of health guidelines.

“People should not be complacent. The vaccine is not here yet, although it’s on its way.” Roumeliotis concluded.

He hopes, as we all do, that the Orange-Restrict zone will result in a decrease in cases, and that Eastern Ontario will be back to Yellow-Protect in the new year.

This article was corrected to indicate that the EOHU jurisdiction, excluding Prescott and Russell counties, had no cases among nursing home residents on Dec. 11. NVN mistook the doctor as excluding Prescott and Russell Residence when he was referring to the United Counties. In fact, there were no more active cases among those living at Prescott and Russell Residence.

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