Peterborough Public Health’s medical officer of health says a surge in COVID-19 cases over the holidays is a “cause for concern.”
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra urged residents “to do better” and adhere to protocols under the provincial shutdown, which went into effect on Dec. 26, 2020.
It comes as the region, as of Wednesday morning, had 89 active cases and 200 high-risk contacts, including three outbreaks. Another outbreak (one staff member) declared Dec. 23 at Riverview Manor long-term care in Peterborough was declared over on Wednesday morning, Salvaterra said.
A month ago, there were only 18 active cases for the health unit. Salvaterra noted that coronavirus case incidence rates are up across Ontario, including in Peterborough, which last week was at 47 cases per 100,000.
“If we were still using the (COVID-19) provincial framework before the shutdown, you would see that Peterborough would either be orange or actually red,” she said.
“If the shutdown was declared over today, Peterborough would find itself in the orange zone, moving towards red… We have cause for concern in Peterborough.”
She said cases have “soared” over the last two weeks, likely attributed to holiday shopping and socializing associated with the holidays.
“This is not isolated to Peterborough – communities across Ontario have seen the same trend despite the shutout provincial shutdown coming in on Dec. 26,” she said.
On the weekend, the health unit reported a record 20 cases in one day. She noted that public health nurses following cases are reporting that most of the spread of the virus is from socialization.
“Not only were Peterborough residents entertaining family members from provincial hot zones, but they had guests in their homes whose last names they didn’t even know,” said Salvaterra. “Some of our latest cases have reported so many gatherings that it is impossible to pinpoint where the exposure took place.
The health unit serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation.
“Peterborough, we need to do better,” said Salvaterra. “I am calling on everyone to adhere to these provincial shutdown requirements. We must stay home and must not allow anyone — except for essential caregivers — into our homes. Indoor gatherings of any kind are illegal. We have a virus that’s transmitted when people are feeling fine.”
Salvaterra also urged anyone to get tested for COVID-19 at the first hint of an illness.
“I’m worried about the undetected transmission that’s occurring in our community,” she said. “It will be much more difficult for us to bring a raging fire under control. I need everyone to trust that Peterborough Public Health will help you stay safe and help keep others safe if you test positive. We can only do that if you take the first step and get tested.”
She also said she’s been “alarmed” at hearing reports of people going to work or socializing while waiting for their test results for COVID-19. She said people are at the greatest risk of infecting others within the first 48 hours. Most people are cleared of symptoms of COVID-19 within 10 days of onset.
Nearly 40,000 people have been tested — one in four — in the health unit’s jurisdiction.
Community Living outbreak
One of the active outbreaks is at Community Living Trent Highland’s home on Romaine Street in Peterborough. The outbreak was declared on Dec. 23. Community Living provides services for adults with developmental disabilities at 16 homes in Peterborough, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.
Theresa Jordan, executive director, said all five residents in the home tested positive, along with nine staff. As of Wednesday, two resident and five staff cases have been resolved, leaving active cases among three residents and four staff.
“I can’t stress enough how diligent and dedicated the team members have been — so many members have taken on extra work,” said Jordan. “It has been a great show of commitment. The entire community has rallied around our home in Peterborough. I’m grateful to our partners and to public health. Having an outbreak over Christmas, we were supported every day at any hour.
Jordan says they have “learned a lot” during the outbreak to help residents and staff.
“Our first priority is we get through this outbreak and ensuring everyone is restored to health,” she said. “I offer my thanks to the community for all of its support, it has been tremendous.”
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