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Simcoe Muskoka and New Tecumseth see sharp rise in cases

October 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Simcoe Muskoka is closing in on a total of 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as infections continue to climb each week.

New Tecumseth is in lockstep with the region as it sees more weekly cases nearing 150 total since the start of the pandemic, with 25 of them presently infected, as of press time.

“We are definitely seeing a rapid rise, exponential growth in cases, both in the Province and in Simcoe Muskoka,” said Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Dr. Charles Gardner.

“Right now, the new cases are doubling four times faster than they were at the beginning of August.”

Dr. Gardner said the rate at which the pandemic is growing speaks to Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s declaration of a “second wave.”

Testing volumes have risen with cases, but Dr. Gardner noted the additional tests can’t be attributed to the recent rise in cases being recorded.

“When I look at the testing volume, it’s gone up about 25 per cent compared with August, so that’s a substantial increase, but that’s actually very small in comparison with the increase in cases,” he said.

“In late July and early August, we had as low as three cases per week and so now we’re almost approaching 20 times that number of cases, almost a 20 fold increase,” Dr. Gardner continued.

“I think the number of cases we see going up is real and not just an artifact of additional testing.”

Discussions around reinstating lockdowns to prevent COVID-19 from overloading hospitals are ongoing within the provincial government.

Dr. Gardner sits on the Provincial Public Health Measures Table and said options are being considered by the Province’s Chief MOH and Premier Ford.

While he noted that he can’t disclose the options being assessed, lockdown measures must be guided by where transmission is happening in the community.

As well, they must analyze which parts of Ontario are seeing the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 before shutting anything down.

“There’s the potential for some focused decisions locally or regionally to address what we’re seeing,” said Dr. Gardner.

In terms of shutting down schools entirely due to COVID-19 outbreaks, there needs to be evidence of transmission within the school where two or more cases occur within a 14-day period.

“If we see that there is widespread exposure, a number of cases involving a number of locations in the school and if in some instances its difficult to determine how they were linked with other cases, that [suggests] that there is transmission happening throughout the school,” Dr. Gardner said.

“In that situation, we’d be looking at closure and isolation of everybody involved and testing.”

In an effort to prevent further spread of the virus, Dr. Gardner stressed the importance of eliminating all contacts outside of people’s household, meaning they shouldn’t be travelling to visit family members for Thanksgiving this weekend.

“This is advisory, we don’t have this as a directive, but my advice would be, of course you can have a turkey, but you should seek to do so as a household and otherwise reach out to loved ones through distanced communication,” he said.

A safe compromise might be gathering with loved ones from other households outdoors, perhaps in one’s backyard where everyone’s physically distanced, Dr. Gardner noted.

He said if familied proceed with this type of gathering it should be small in size and is a much safer alternative to being inside.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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