Top doc confident positive cases self-isolating

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Zero new cases reported Thursday

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported for Chatham-Kent on Thursday afternoon, and there are eight fewer active cases than 24 hours earlier.

CK Public Health updates the local COVID-19 statistics every weekday at 2:30 p.m.

Chatham-Kent’s cumulative total of COVID-19 cases sits at 336. One case was removed from Wednesday’s cumulative total count because it turned out to be a false positive.

Four individuals remain hospitalized. Since the onset of the pandemic there have been only two deaths, and Chatham-Kent remains one of the regions with the lowest death rate.

A total of 77 cases remain active. On Wednesday there were 85. 

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said he had expected to see the number of active cases begin to drop substantially.

“A large number of people, when we had our surge of cases a few weeks ago, have gone through their isolation period past the point where they could be considered contagious and will be released from the active list as recovered cases,” he said.

Although that is the current trend, the situation can change any day, he added.

Colby said rumors that large groups Low-German speaking individuals are shopping and eating at restaurants despite being positive with COVID-19 are untrue.

CK Public Health has been following up every other day, sometimes everyday, by telephone with individuals who have COVID-19, leaving Colby “reasonably confident” that everyone is abiding by their self-isolation orders.

Colby said he only issues a legally binding order, served by the police and is associated with a $5,000 a day fine, when staff hears suspicious background noises on a call (for example car traffic) or when a patient is being defiant in wanting to follow self-isolation protocols.

“Even the threat of such an order is enough to get the vast majority of people into compliance,” he said.

Colby said he issued around 12 orders since the onset of the pandemic in March, and no one has been fined to date.

“The vast majority of people are community minded and saying ‘OK, well if I can be an infection hazard to somebody, I will do my part and I will stay home and take all the precautions that are necessary.’”

Colby said he does not know if anyone can repair the damage caused to the Low-German speaking community after identifying them as a group of people with COVID-19. Public health units across southwest Ontario have reached out the community representatives, clergymen, and radio stations that air in their language, he said.

A second workplace outbreak was declared on Tuesday. The most recent place was the Salvation Army, after two staff from the church office tested positive.

A couple of more cases associated with the boating party have been discovered. Colby said around two more cases came with contacts with individuals on that trip, and for the most part cases associated with that incident were tailing off.

Regional updates

Ontario continues to see less than 100 new daily cases of COVID-19. On Thursday, 78 cases were reported. There are approximately 890 active province-wide.

Lambton County remains one of the last regions in Ontario without a county-wide mandatory mask order. Plympton-Wyoming’s council voted against the idea at its Wednesday meeting. Only Sarnia has a mask bylaw currently in effect, and Petrolia will have one as of Friday 12:01 a.m.

Sarnia’s mayor plans to raise the issue once more at county council, which previously left it up to each municipality to decide. To date there are nine active cases left in the region.

Windsor-Essex is continuing to see its week-long trend of declining active cases. A total of 108 cases remain unresolved. Last week there were more than 200. Four workplaces were also cleared of their outbreak status. Three institutional, and six workplace outbreaks remain in effect.

Southwestern Public Health, which has seen similar trends to Chatham-Kent with regards to a surge in cases in the Low-German speaking community, is also coming down on the active case front. On Thursday, more people recovered from COVID-19 than were found to be positive there. 

Fifty-eight cases remain active for the Oxford- Elgin-St. Thomas region.

Middlesex-London remains unchanged from Wednesday, with 17 active cases, and no new ones reported all week.

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