Dr. Miriam Klassen encourages responsible reopening because ‘we don’t want to lose ground’
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
HURON-PERTH – “I’m happy to report Huron-Perth has not had a positive case of COVID-19 diagnosed in our community since May 1,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health in Huron-Perth, at the beginning of a media briefing on May 14.
She did mention there have been some positive results through point prevalence testing in long-term care homes of staff members who live outside of Huron-Perth.
The total confirmed number of positive cases within the area stands at 49.
“We’ve completed 2,205 tests, 97 pending and 2,059 negatives,” she said. “This does not include the swabs that have been done as part of point prevalence testing in the long-term care homes and as part of that testing, we have completed an additional 2,770 tests.”
The 49 positive cases have resulted in five deaths and 42 recoveries.
In the local long-term care sector, four of the six outbreaks have now been declared over. Braemar Retirement Centre in Wingham has two confirmed cases and Exeter Villa has one, all staff members.
“I just want to stop and commend the staff of these facilities for their hard work and also mention there were other partners who helped,” said Klassen.
“Local hospitals have been amazing partners providing support with regards to staffing and PPE … EMS has partnered with long-term care surveillance, so there’s been a lot of contributions to make that happen.”
As the weather starts to warm up, Klassen mentioned the province is announcing more plans for opening businesses, services and public locations.
“I can certainly understand everyone’s eagerness to start moving towards our new normal, but I also want to remind everyone our progress so far in Huron-Perth and Ontario is thanks to the hard work our communities have done, and we don’t want to lose ground,” said Klassen.
As communities move into the reopening phase, Klassen encourages everyone to act responsibly.
Huron Perth Public Health has added a page to its website about spring and summer activities in Huron-Perth. It lists activities which are possible with modifications and activities which will have to wait.
“As you can appreciate this information changes rapidly, so residents are encouraged to check back often,” said Klassen. “We’re still asking people to not gather in groups of more than five and to maintain distance between people from other households so if you do go to a conservation area, they are open for walking, biking, hiking and birdwatching, people are still asked to maintain a social distance and again, stay home if you are sick.”
Klassen also mentioned Perth County Paramedic Services has launched a new program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mobile health care resource will be providing advanced assessment for individuals referred to the team, palliative support and testing in the community for those who cannot make it to an assessment centre.
“EMS can provide service in the community which is great,” she said. “This was a strong direction from the Ontario Health Table and it’s great to have that surveillance available.”
Klassen said she could not predict what’s going to happen in the future, but she said it’s really important to have the ability to test people and identify cases early so that we can do case management, isolation and contact tracing.
“That will be helpful in the containment stage,” she said.