The first confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Haliburton County, the region’s health unit announced late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, the case involves a man in his 90s who, on Monday, arrived by ambulance to Haliburton Highlands Health Services after reporting abdominal pain.
The hospital is locate about 100 km north of Peterborough.
The health unit says the man was diagnosed with pneumonia and tested for COVID-19 with results on Wednesday confirming he is positive. The Haliburton County resident remains hospitalized in isolation and recovering, the health unit said.
The case is another example of community transmission, the health unit notes, since the man did not have travel history or been in direct contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“We are so pleased to hear that this man is recovering,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the health unit’s medical officer of health. “We know that COVID-19 can be devastating for our older population and that is why we are imploring everyone to do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“This new case is another vivid reminder that we must all take steps — like self-isolating, handwashing and physical distancing — to protect ourselves and others from the virus.”
The case now means there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in all three counties served by the health unit. The health unit’s website reported 63 total cases in its jurisdiction as of Tuesday (data is at least 25 hours behind current updates) which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes (48 cases) and Northumberland County (15 cases).
The health unit reported 13 deaths as of Tuesday, but that number jumped to 15 following reports of two more deaths at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, according to the nursing home’s medical director.
Noseworthy says the health unit has been working closely with the Haliburton hospital throughout the pandemic and numerous measures were in place in anticipation of a positive case. These included active screening of staff, limiting the points of entry to the hospital and restricting visitors to the facility.
The medical officer of health noted when the man arrived to the hospital, staff took the “appropriate precautions” to ensure there was limited risk to anyone else at the facility.
“I want to thank our dedicated staff team at HHHS who have been working hard to ensure we were prepared with all of the right protocols and precautions in place to address local COVID-19 cases,” stated Carolyn Plummer, hospital CEO and president.
“We will continue to take the steps required to protect the health and safety of our community, patients, residents, clients, staff and physicians, and encourage everyone to do their part to keep our community safe.”
On Tuesday, the hospital, Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team and Haliburton County opened a COVID-19 assessment centre in the parking lot of the Haliburton Family Medical Centre. Testing is by appointment only after health care providers complete a phone assessment and advise of next steps, which could include instructions on self-monitoring, self-isolating or possible testing.
The health unit recommends residents should complete the online self-assessment first if they think they have symptoms of COVID-19. Then, if required, contact the Haliburton County COVID-19 community assessment centre at 705-457-1212 (press 6) during regular business hours. If symptoms are severe, please call 911 and alert the dispatcher to the symptoms.
“We are all working together to keep our residents healthy,” said Noseworthy. “We need everyone to do their part by staying home, practising physical distancing and washing their hands regularly.
“We are in this together.”