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Medical Officer of Health urges further public safety measures as household clusters of COVID-19 rise

November 27, 2020   ·   0 Comments

As Simcoe Muskoka settles into the Orange (Restrict) Zone of the Province’s plan to curb the spread of COVID-19, the area’s Medical Officer of Health is urging residents to do more to flatten the curve.

On Tuesday, Dr. Charles Gardner issued a statement asking residents increase their efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, including limiting close contact to members of your own household.

“Since September, we have observed a substantial increase in household clusters of COVID-19 cases, and in each cluster, every person in the household has been infected,” said Dr. Gardner. “We are on track for much higher disease levels unless we take more action to curb its spread, and that includes actions as individuals within our work, social and household settings.”

At press time this week, Simcoe Muskoka has recorded 1,938 cases of COVID-19, resulting in 52 deaths. From the start of November alone, there have been approximately 40 household clusters, according to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).

In addition to urging residents to do their part, Dr. Gardner is also asking people from outside the community, including places like York Region, which was moved to Red (Control) effective November 23, as well as Toronto and Peel which are now under lockdown, to stay within their home areas to reduce spread.

According to the SMDHU, Dr. Gardiner has issued a letter to municipalities “strongly recommending that they prohibit access to their recreational facilities to those whose primary home lies within the Red and Grey levels of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework.”

“The movement of people from communities with a higher incidence of COVID-19 than Simcoe Muskoka carries with it the added risk of transmission, both among those travelling to Simcoe Muskoka, and to those locally. The advice is supported by the Framework, which strongly recommends that “individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas except for essential reasons.”

Among Dr. Gardiner’s recommendations are:

  • Close Contact, Gatherings and Events:
  • Limit close contact to your household (the people you live with).
  • Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
  • Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else.
    Wear a face covering indoors, outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained, or if wearing one is required.
  • Virtual gatherings or events are the safest way to visit or recognize occasions with people outside your household.
  • Adhere to provincial and applicable local restrictions on public and private gatherings
  • Inter-provincial Travel
  • Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Individuals and families who consider travelling to another province for essential reasons during the holidays should: Consider the risk associated with travelling. This includes COVID-19 transmission in the other province, entry requirements (e.g., quarantine) of some other provinces, etc.; Self-quarantine, or drastically reduce close contact with others 10 to 14 days before travelling and after returning home. This will help lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

General (Ontario) public health advice, as well as any rules and regulations of the other province, should be followed.

General Advice

  • Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • Cover your cough
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app, and
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app.

Since Wednesday, November 18, New Tecumseth has recorded 31 new cases of COVID-19, with 8 cases reported on November 24 alone. The latest 8 cases are still under investigation.

To date, New Tecumseth has seen 330 cases of COVID-19, 12 of which have proved fatal. 276 cases are now marked as recovered.

As of November 18, all staff cases at Beeton’s Simcoe Manor were marked as resolved. This came two days after Simcoe County reported that all active or symptomatic residential cases were marked as resolved as well.

“All staff cases are now classified as resolved,” said the County last week. “This news, along with our communication on Monday outlining that all resident cases in the home have been resolved, is very encouraging as we work towards ending this outbreak. Our staff remain vigilant and committed to keeping our home safe.”

And this same vigilance should be exercised within the greater New Tecumseth community as well, said Dr. Gardner.

“This pandemic has been extremely challenging for all us and I know that the additional actions I am asking for are difficult, particularly as we approach the holiday season,” he said. “However, the only way we are going to slow the spread of COVID-19, which will allow us to keep our communities safe and healthy and our schools, organizations and businesses open, is through our own actions as individuals and as a society.”

By Brock Weir


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