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Medical officer pleads for caution as cases rise

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Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health all but begged people to stick with public health protocols after Monday’s discouraging daily COVID-19 case count report.

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Nine new cases were recorded in the 24 hours up to 23:59 Sunday night: two each in Chatsworth and Kincardine, and single cases in Southgate, Georgian Bluffs, Hanover and Owen Sound.

Further, there were 59 active cases and 394 high-risk contacts to keep track of, Dr. Ian Arra said Monday in an interview. The day before there were 300 high-risk contacts.

In a couple of cases, each had close contacts numbering more than 25, “which tells me they’re not careful.

“Which is fatigue. People see the green (least-restrictive public health zone) and believe it’s done and it’s really not, we’re not out of the woods,” Arra said.

There are also a few cases or probable cases associated with schools, none with declared outbreaks, which boosted the number of high-risk contacts, he said.

Monday he meant to “implore” people, “it’s a step down from begging,” he said. “They need to be very vigilant over the coming three weeks and this will be the final push. The three W’s is all that they need to do” — wash hands, wear a mask and watch your distance with others.

He picked three weeks because he estimates the peak of the current third wave of the virus could be reached in mid-April, if it’s like the second wave.

“We were at the same juncture, if you remember, in November, where the number of high-risk contacts for each case has increased drastically,” Arra said.

Arra said all available staff have been called on to help with contact tracing and management.

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“It takes a tremendous amount of effort to manage this number of high-risk contacts. This number will keep increasing, unless we limit, starting today, our unprotected encounters with all people outside of our own households,” he’s quoted saying in the daily situation report.

Monday’s report also showed six people in hospital, a new high. Two of them are people with Grey-Bruce addresses but don’t live here and they’re in hospitals out of this area, Arra said.

There have been four deaths of Grey-Bruce people attributed to the virus, one of whom had a Grey-Bruce address but lived and died in hospital out of this area, Arra said.

Monday’s report showed Grey-Bruce with 814 cases of COVID cumulatively, including 35 variants of concern, 10 of which are active. Resolved cases number 751. Cumulative health care worker infections total 83.

* * *

Grey Bruce Health Unit staff are investigating a case of COVID-19 concerning a student at Timothy Christian School in Owen Sound.

There’s no indication of transmission from person-to-person within the school environment and no bus route is involved, a health unit news release said Monday.

Arra said the student is part of a family associated with the Harvest Reformed Community School and church in Georgian Bluffs. That school was associated with probable cases of COVID-19, which the health unit reported March 27.

The student has been contacted directly by the health unit’s contact management team, which with the school’s help, has identified all others in and out of the school who may have been exposed through the student to the pandemic virus.

If public health staff haven’t contacted you, you need not get tested, Monday’s release said.

Anyone who develops COVID symptoms should get tested. Symptoms are broad and include a fever, difficulty breathing, gastro-intestinal symptoms like diarrhea, and headache, Arra said.

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