‘Refreshing’ trend as numbers decline, says Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health — though Dr. Roumeliotis is wary of coronavirus variants

Natascha Wood
Nation Valley News

EASTERN ONTARIO — As the region comes to the end of its first day in Orange-Restrict Zone following the provincial shutdown, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis delivered the latest updates about the local COVID-19 situation in his February 16th media briefing.

Roumeliotis reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 since February 12th, an average of four per day. Six were in Prescott-Russell, 10 were in SD&G, and four were in Cornwall. Day to day numbers continue to be stable and in single digits, a trend which Roumeliotis called “refreshing”.

However, concern over the threat of viral variants has the doctor taking a cautious approach on dropping the region a rung down into the less restrictive Yellow-Protect level. “It’s not to say we won’t go into Yellow in a week or two,” the doctor said, after explaining that he prefers toughening the provincial framework to make it harder for a region to go into the milder colour levels. “In the past, I was less concerned about going to Yellow … because we didn’t have the variants.”

Over the long weekend, outbreaks at Lancaster Long Term Care Home, Glen Stor Dun Lodge, and Pinecrest Nursing Home were declared officially over by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. However, three new outbreaks were reported in Maxville Manor, Iakhihsohtha Lodge, and Chartwell Chateau Cornwall. There are now a total of 13 congregate living outbreaks, including the Tsiionkwanonhso:te Long Term Care Home, Woodland Villa, Riverview Manor, Valoris-211 Russell Road, Manoir Carillion, Centre d’Acceuil Roger Segin, The Palace Long Term Care, and the JMP1 1600 Pod in Cornwall Community Hospital.

Tragically, another death attributed to COVID-19 was reported. Roumeliotis confirmed the deceased resided at Lancaster Long Term Care Home abd tragically passed away in hospital.

Dr. Roumeliotis also delivered an update on the status of vaccinations locally. The EOHU is continuing the distribution of second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to long term care home residents and first doses to staff. Crucially, there is now a steadier supply of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, allowing the Health Unit to start vaccinating front-facing health care workers as well.

Roumeliotis expects the arrival of three trays of the Pfizer vaccine this week, which contains approximately 3,300 doses. Following that, Eastern Ontario will receive around 4,600 doses per week, possibly more. He reported that plans are being created for multiple vaccination clinics ahead of the next phase of the provincial rollout.

Beyond nursing and retirement homes, the EOHU plans to offer vaccine to people in the community age 80 and over “as soon as we can,” he said.

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