Although there have been no positive tests for the novel coronavirus in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, the local public health unit believes there’s a strong possibility the virus is circulating in the area.
On Monday, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health announced that due to changes in Ministry of Health guidelines, officials say there are 35 probable cases of COVID-19, the diseased caused by the new coronavirus, in the area. Many of these cases are related to travel, the public health unit said.
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“These individuals have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days and until symptoms resolve,” a public health news release said on Monday.
According to the local public health unit, the ministry’s guidelines are to screen for a probable case if patients have fever over 38 C and/or a cough. The health unit said it would consider cases to be probable in anyone who has travelled in the last two weeks to an impacted area; who has had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19; and who has had contact with someone with an acute respiratory illness who has been to an impacted area.
Lab test results are no longer required to screen an individual as a probable case. Hastings Prince Edward Public Health has been screening for probable COVID-19 cases over the phone.
Public health officials ask anyone who suspects they may have the virus to call the office at 613-966-5500 to be screened.
The public health unit is also suggesting that since patients are not being tested for the virus, it’s also possible they are exhibiting symptoms of the flu.
Despite the lack of positive tests, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is strongly encouraging residents to use measures to protect themselves from getting and spreading the virus.
“The emergence of local probable cases reinforces the need for all community members to practise precautions, including social distancing, hand hygiene and infection control. As many probable cases are related to travel, this data also reinforces the need for returning travellers to comply with the self-isolation advisory,” the news release read.
Canadian public health officials have advised anyone who has returned from travel to self-isolate for 14 days.
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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