Since March the town of Goderich has experienced a relatively low number of cases of COVID-19, with only four confirmed cases.
Now in the Orange-Restrict level of public health measures, another case was added to the list on Nov. 26.
According to Dr. Miriam Klassen, Chief Medical Officer with Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) this is one of the first schools in Huron and provides a message to remember that the virus is here.
“This case just came in at some point today (Nov. 26) so I don’t have a lot of detail on it and the investigation is ongoing,” explained Klassen.
“My understanding is that there is a positive case and the cohort has been identified and dismissed while we continue our investigation.”
The confirmed case of COVID-19 is at Goderich Collegiate District Institute (GDCI).
“A case very recently identified related to GDCI, the cohort has been dismissed as per our protocol but we are still in the early stages of our investigation,” Klassen said.
HPPH continues to work closely with the school boards, staff and families at affected schools.
Provincial data continues to show that COVID-19 is not transmitting rapidly at schools, as 86 per cent of schools have no reported active or current cases. Currently only four schools – less than one per cent – across the province are closed due to outbreaks.
Currently HPPH is investigating and tracking the Goderich case and the health unit is completing risk assessment for the local school and community.
“I am very concerned that people in Huron-Perth are becoming complacent about following our public health recommendations,” reiterated Klassen.
“We are in the midst of the second wave and we need everyone’s participation to flatten this curve. Many of us are frustrated but we all need to have the same goal or we will stay in ‘Orange’ longer than we need to and that will affect our local businesses longer.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been a total of 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth counties.
Prior to Nov. 26, the majority of currently confirmed and active cases are in Stratford (11) and Perth East (14), with five cases in North Perth and one in North Huron.
As of Nov. 26 there were 31 active cases in the health unit, and a total of 16 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared.
“As the number of cases rises across the province and in our area, we must all follow public health measures,” Klassen said.
“To protect our most vulnerable members and our healthcare capacity, it’s critical that we stop the community spread across Huron and Perth. Things can change so quickly, so we need to be vigilant now to flatten the curve of this second wave.”
There has been concern on why Huron and Perth counties were moved to the Orange-Restrict level of public health measures.
The levels are determined by multiple factors including rates of cases in the HPPH unit, reproduction number in the health unit, hospital capacity in the health unit and the capacity to do case and contact management.
Gathering limits in the Orange-Restrict level for social gatherings are 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors. For organized public events limits are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Requirements for face coverings and workplace screening requirements remain the same.
Furthermore, Klassen touched on the subject of remembering public health staff is working for people and not against.
“They are experiencing the pandemic just like you are. Public health staff are people too,” added Klassen.
According to Klassen there are currently no long-term care home outbreaks, yet one retirement home outbreak that continues at Cedarcroft. Huron and Perth counties currently have two community cases that are being treated in hospital for COVID-19.
One school remains in outbreak status near Listowel (outbreaks are declared when a minimum of two individuals are confirmed).
Other schools that have cases associated – not necessarily a school exposure – to them include Anne Hathaway in Stratford, St. Ambrose in Stratford and a few private Christian schools in Huron and Perth.
Klassen lamented in the Nov. 26 media briefing that throughout the pandemic she has heard people focus on the knowledge of where the cases were and if the municipality they live in was ‘safe’.
“That’s the wrong approach to take. We all have to behave as if COVID-19 is in every municipality and that every person that we are encountering could be unknowingly transmitting it. We have to be vigilant at all times,” Klassen said.
“What we have seen at the second wave is how rapidly cases escalate when people let their guard down. You go from one to three to ten, to 50 really quickly.”
For more up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Huron and Perth counties: https://www.hpph.ca/en/health-matters/covid-19-in-huron-and-perth.aspx