Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health for KFL&A Public Health said Wednesday he was fairly certain there were a number of people with COVID-19 in the community that the health unit has not tested, but he expects that number is very low.
But, despite some people’s concerns that Kingston’s COVID-19 numbers are not accurate, Moore said although there may be more people with the disease out there, the current number of 53 people, is a pretty close to the real count.
Public Health had originally reported 54 cases, but realized that a person tested in the area actually lived in another jurisdiction, which brought the region’s total down to 53.
“I am concerned that we could be missing individuals who don’t come forward,” Moore said. “I’d be naïve to say we don’t have cases in the community that are spreading without me or KFL&A Public Health being aware, but I do think it’s a small number.”
Moore said seeing numbers in Kingston starting to slow last week, locally, public health made the decision to start opening up testing past the previous criteria — that is, for patients with recent travel history or who were a close-contact of a positive case.
Working with primary care physicians and hospitals in the region, public health and health-care staff started testing a wider swath of people with symptoms by referral over the last week. In fact, numbers of KFL&A Public Health’s website show that the majority of people who enter the Memorial Centre assessment centre are actually swabbed for the virus.
Moore said in addition to opening up testing criteria, public health has been monitoring all hospital admissions, on the lookout for those admitted to hospital for other respiratory ailments who may have COVID-19 without knowing.
“We’re testing those individuals and we’re not seeing any positives come to light” Moore said.
All in all, with Kingston’s recent plateau in numbers, Moore said he is reassured that there is not significant community spread in the region.
“There must be two or three, or four that are active in our community, but certainly not any significant numbers,” Moore said.
Moore said he expects cases will go up in the Kingston region, just watching other communities like Toronto and Ottawa nearby, which each saw big jumps in cases between Tuesday and Wednesday, but that jump is not expected within the next month.
He said models have shown, as long as people in the region continue to practice social distancing like they have been for the last several weeks, that numbers in the region will continue to stay stable.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Moore said Kingston’s cases still stood at 53, with no new cases identified between Monday and Wednesday.
Nevertheless, Moore said public health is very concerned about the coming long weekend, which might bring people together for holiday celebrations like Easter and Passover.
“I am anxious about this coming weekend where we have religious celebrations occurring, families are naturally going to want to get together, there may be yard sales put in play.
“Those points where we can have people mixing in our community could change our numbers and reignite a small flame in our community we’ll have to snuff out.”
The region’s assessment centres at the Memorial Centre and at the Lennox and Addington County General Hospital will stay open over the long weekend for limited hours each day – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – in order to keep testing the community.
Otherwise, Moore is advising people to continue to stay home, not to gather with people beyond their immediate household, and to continue to practice safe social distancing measures.
“Our community is doing very well, but we have to stay the course,” Moore said.