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Travel outside of Kingston region greatest threat for COVID-19: Public health

Medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore says the biggest risk for locals to contact COVID-19 is travel outside the region. Kraig Krause / Global News

The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region saw it’s first new case of novel coronavirus in almost three weeks on Wednesday, with the region’s total case number reaching 62.

Sixty-one of those cases are resolved.

Tuesday’s case was also the first since the Kingston region became a net zero COVID-19 zone last Friday. It was contracted, according to KFL&A Public Health, in another region in Ontario.

READ MORE: 1 new case of coronavirus announced in Kingston region, total now 62

Although Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, would not say exactly where the person caught the disease, he did say public health has seen a trend of locals catching the disease from nearby urban centres.

Our last few cases have all traveled outside of the region and picked up the infection elsewhere, and I think that’s going to be the ongoing pattern … people have to go to areas where there’s active infection, such as 416 or 905 areas, so the Greater Toronto Metropolitan area and or in Ottawa.  That’s the only real means to acquire the infection now,” Moore said.

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He added that the person who most recently tested positive for the virus was responsible when they came back, and got tested as soon as they showed symptoms. They also had very few close contacts in Kingston.

Minimal number of contacts here,” Moore said. “This person’s done the right thing and so have everyone else that’s gone for testing.”

Moore said local public health nurses work very hard at contact tracing when new cases arrive in Kingston.

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He noted that one person who tested positive for the virus in the Kingston region had 22 close-contacts to notify.

“[The cases were] all outside of KFL&A region, because people think they can go back and socialize. That’s not the truth. You still have to stay in small social groups. You have to maintain physical distancing. We cannot let our guard down,” Moore said.
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The medical officer of health urged people in the Kingston region to stay local, and to only travel outside of the community for absolutely urgent matters, such as family emergencies.

If travel within the province is necessary, Moore said it’s important to screen yourself for any respiratory symptoms and to call ahead and screen your family members as well.

“Please screen before, screen when you arrive, maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene. Still be vigilant. As vigilant as you are here, apply it in any other setting in Ontario.”

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Moore also noted that anyone travelling should consider the risk of going to other areas, including Ottawa, the GTA and southern Ontario like Hamilton and Windsor, that are still showing evidence of community spread.

“Everyone going to those cities has to do a risk assessment, has to assess if it’s necessary, has to assess the people that they’re going to be in close contact with. If anyone that they’re visiting has a febrile illness, I would not go,” Moore said.

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If that travel is completed within the province, Moore said it is not necessary to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival, but he urges travellers to screen themselves again for symptoms, and to go get tested if they notice any fever or respiratory issues.

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