WDG Public Health confirms first case of COVID-19 in region

March 16, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Officials from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) have this morning (March 16) confirmed the first positive case of COVID-19 in our area.

A man in his 40s tested positive for the infection during a test administered at Headwaters Health Care Centre. He had recently returned from a trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Nicole Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of WDGPH, noted all appropriate infection control precautions were followed during the testing period. The individual is now in self-isolation at home and his case is now being followed by regional health authorities.

“This does not change our protocols around containment of the COVID-19 virus in our area,” Dr. Mercer said. “We are following up with any contacts of the individual and ensuring the public is aware and protected from the spread of this virus. It is important to know that 80 percent of people with this virus will have mild to moderate symptoms.”

She added, “Anyone who is concerned should phone their health care provider, call Telehealth or visit an assessment centre.”

The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization last Wednesday (March 11). As of 2 p.m. on Monday (March 16), there are 175,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the globe, with 6,717 recorded deaths. In China, where it is believed the virus originated, there are 80,880 confirmed cases and a total of 3,213 deaths. Of those total recorded cases, 77,871 individuals have made full recoveries

On Dec. 19, 2019 Chinese authorities identified a cluster of similar cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. These cases were soon determined to be caused by a novel coronavirus, which is known as and being referred to as COVID-19. According to WHO, coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are common in humans and are responsible for up to 30 percent of common colds.

There have been two previous outbreaks of new diseases caused by coronaviruses in recent history – SARS in 2003, which resulted in around 1,000 deaths worldwide, and MERS in 2012, which resulted in 862 deaths worldwide.

Aside from China, COVID-19 has brought many European and Middle Eastern nations to their knees. As of Monday, there have been 24,747 confirmed cases in Italy, with 1,809 deaths. Iran has 14,991 total cases, with 853 deaths. Elsewhere, Spain, South Korea, Germany and France all have more than 5,000 total cases, with the United States now ranked 8th in terms of total cases, with 4,108 cases recorded nationwide. In total, 144 countries and territories across the world have recorded confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Here in Canada, we currently have 375 confirmed cases, with 34 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours. A British Columbia man in his 80s, with underlying health conditions, is the sole death nationwide as of press time.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director of WHO, has implored health organizations the world over to ramp up tasting of patients showing symptoms of COVID-19.

“Countries must test. They can’t fight this blindly. They need to find cases and isolate them,” Dr. Adhanom said. “My message to the health ministers today (is) is to invest in testing. They must be able to test all suspected cases. We advise countries to stick to testing and continue to containment strategies, because we believe this virus is controllable if the right measures are taken.”

Locally, to protect the health of the public and prevent community spread, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is investigating and following up with close contacts of the local man infected.

The best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, are; to wash your hands often with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub, stay home if you’re sick, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily, and call ahead of visiting your health care provider for infectious symptoms so they can plan to protect others from spread.

The Ontario government has reacted swiftly in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease. It was announced on Thursday (March 12) that all publicly funded schools would be closed until April 5. A total of 177 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 across Ontario, with more than 1,537 people currently under investigation for the virus. More than 8,460 people in Ontario have tested negative.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new travel restrictions for people looking to come into Canada.

“Over the past few days, we have seen COVID-19 spread around the world at an incredible pace. Canada is no different. We assured you, as the situation evolved, our response would evolve too,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “We have decided to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe.”

Prime Minister Trudeau revealed Canada would immediately close its borders to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and the United States. Canadians who are currently overseas and showing signs of COVID-19, will not be allowed back into the country until they have recovered.

Beginning on March 18, only four Canadian airports will accept international travel – Toronto Pearson Airport, Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Vancouver International Airport and Calgary International Airport. Restrictions will apply only to people travelling and will not effect commerce and international trade.

“Exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures. These measures will help to save lives,” Trudeau said.

He would go on to ask that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel, and called for those who are currently overseas to come home as soon as possible.

“If you’re abroad, it’s time to come back home. If you’ve been abroad, once you get home you must self isolate for 14 days,” Trudeau said. “Beyond that, all Canadians as much as possible should stay home. Staying home is an important step to protecting your community and protecting each other.”

He mentioned that measures would be implemented over the coming days to ensure Canadians who aren’t working, and are isolating themselves at home, would have access to resources to ensure they can pay for things such as rent and groceries.

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