EASTERN ONTARIO — The website of the local health unit shows “more accurate” COVID-19 case numbers to the public than its provincial counterpart, Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis asserted during a media briefing yesterday.
Responding to a question from the Vankleek Hill Review’s James Morgan on evident discrepancies between the stats on the respective EOHU and Ontario coronavirus web pages, Roumeliotis was not flattering in his assessment of the provincial site’s “new system” that connects with local health unit data.
“There’s a new system they’ve put in, and they don’t talk to each other; they’re not updated at the same time; they don’t download and upload at the same time,” the doctor said Feb. 12, adding, “So our numbers are more accurate.”
NVN has emailed the medical officer of health for further clarification on the implications of what he described — and whether the situation could even point to a broader systemic problem with figures publicized daily by the Ontario government. For example, should media and news broadcasters rely on the Ontario site as the most authoritative source of provincial COVID-19 figures if “more accurate” information resides with 35 individual health units? Should reporters visit each regional health unit website to calculate the Ontario totals themselves? Can the government be confident in the numbers it assembles and relies upon to set pandemic policy for the province?
The matter was also brought to NVN’s attention two weeks ago by a reader who noted the Ontario site had recorded 67 total COVID-19 deaths in the EOHU region, while the EOHU itself was then reporting 59 or 60 (as of Feb. 4). As of today, Feb. 12, the EOHU site puts the accumulated number of deaths at 63 while Ontario has the count for this region at 70.