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Guelph’s public health unit prepares for 2nd wave of novel coronavirus

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From finding a family physician to restocking your first aid kit, Dr. Jessica Chan explains what preparations people can do now in the event of a COVID-19 second wave.

As cases of the novel coronavirus appear to be on the decline, Guelph’s public health unit says it is preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19.

A report, prepared by Guelph’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, is being presented to the board of health on Wednesday.

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It warns of multiple future scenarios, but there is added concern with a potentially larger second wave arriving in the fall or winter of this year.

“Experts and policymakers have already begun to discuss the possibility of a second wave and the measures that our health system must undertake to prepare for such an event,” the report states.

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The report shows that the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy outlines several possible scenarios that could play out, but highlights three: a series of smaller waves over the next couple of years, a larger wave later this year or ongoing transmission without a clear pattern.

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The report states a larger wave later this year “would have the greatest impact and is the greatest cause for concern.”

It also points to previous pandemics, such as the one in 1918 which saw a second wave more severe than the first.

The report adds that the rate of transmission changes over the course of a pandemic in response to control measures, but also to the weather.

In preparation for a worst-case scenario, Guelph’s public health unit will address a number of actions outlined in the report, expected to take place over the coming months.

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Those include enhancing surveillance, bolstering case management and data entry teams, utilizing the province’s COVID Alert app and incorporating messaging about a second wave to the public.

Public health has already established a Congregate Settings team to support facilities such as long-term care homes and shelters that have been hit hard by the first wave.

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Public health has also issued an order making masks mandatory inside all businesses. While it doesn’t have an end date, medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer has hinted it could be in effect for a while.

“Until we have no evidence of COVID-19 transmission within our community or minimal evidence of COVID-19 transmission, or we have a vaccine available or an effective treatment — those would all be good reasons for us to rescind the order,” she said.

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Guelph reported one new case of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the city’s total to 213 cases. The death toll remained unchanged at 11.

There are only 15 active cases in Guelph, including two patients in hospital.

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