By Jenna Cocullo
Designates at the Canadian border will be informing CK Public Health of any Chatham-Kent residents returning home from travel to enforce the now legally-binding quarantine.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government will implement the Quarantine Act, allowing officers to severely fine, or even jail, any person in violation of the mandatory 14-day self-isolation required for all Canadians returning home from abroad.
“In response to the fact that too many travellers are still not self-isolating upon returning to Canada, we are taking greater action,” said Trudeau said at the press conference. “People have not been taking this very seriously. They’re stopping by the grocery store on their way home from the airport. They’re getting together with friends after they’ve been away for March Break. This kind of conduct is not just disappointing, it’s dangerous.”
Dr. David Colby, chief medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent, explained that the Canadian Border Service Agency will have a designated federal officer at each crossing who will inform Public Health of residents returning from travel.
If Public Health checks an individual and finds they are not self-isolating, or hear reports that they are not following the law, the matter will be handed over to the police.
Const. Renee Cowell, public information officer for Chatham-Kent Police Service, said they are still in the process of sorting out all the details of enforcement with the federal government and will have an FAQ page on their website next week.
Colby said the Quarantine Act will allow health officials to deal with COVID-19 more easily. Prior to the federal government implementing obligatory measures for self-isolation, Public Health was receiving many reports of residents heading out to the grocery store or with friends, despite having travelled.
Since Thursday’s announcement, Public Health had not been informed of any residents returning from travel by the CBSA.
Dr. Dax Biondi, chief of ER for the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, said if someone just returned from vacation, and has a medical emergency they should “call their family physician as you normally would and let them know you are self-isolating due to travel. If your illness is life-threatening please contact 911.”
Anyone who fears they may have COVID-19 is asked to first conduct an online self-assessment through Telehealth Ontario’s website then reach out to their primary care provider or C-K Public Health.
A person who is self-isolating due to travel must continue to quarantine even if they have a loved one who is receiving end-of-life care that they would like to visit.
The hospital has provided their medical units with tablets that can connect loved ones through technology.
READ MORE: COVID-19: Isolation and assessment
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that effective Saturday night, pending official approval of the cabinet, the province was banning all groups of more than five people with the exception of families, essential businesses, and child care facilities. More to come on how C-K police services will respond to this weekend’s announcement.