The Grey Bruce Health Unit reported three new cases of COVID-19 Friday.
The new cases were reported in Grey Highlands, Southgate, and Kincardine.
Grey Bruce Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra said the cases reported Friday have not, at this point, been connected to a Halloween party in Dundalk where a person is thought to have been shedding the virus.
There are now five active cases of COVID-19 in the region.
To date, 184 people in Grey-Bruce have contracted COVID-19 with 166 of those people now recovered and 13 referred to other health units. There are no known COVID-19 cases being treated at local hospitals, and no deaths have been attributed to the disease in Grey Bruce. As of Friday afternoon, no long-term care facilities, childcare centres or schools in the region were experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.
Grey Bruce Health Services announced Friday that COVID-19 testing would be expanding to the Lion’s Head Hospital beginning next week.
Testing will be offered at the Lion’s Head Hospital from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m, Wednesday and Friday. Patients have been asked to park and enter the building at the back of the hospital.
GBHS has been operating a COVID-19 assessment centre in Owen Sound since spring and recently expanded testing to the hospital in Southampton as well.
Appointments are required and walk-ins will not be accepted at any of the testing centres. There are two options for booking an appointment: online at www.gbhs.on.ca (Book COVID-19 Test), or by phone at 519-378-1466.
Arra said the demand for testing has calmed down since September when assessment centres were being overrun with people looking to get swabbed. He said a change from the province’s Ministry of Health has helped ease the burden.
“Locally, the really good thing is people with symptoms are being tested and people without symptoms are in general not testing – unless they’re part of a strategy like visiting long-term care or something like that. That’s been consistent since the direction from the ministry changed,” he said.
To get tested at one of the three GBHS sites, individuals must either be symptomatic, been identified by the health unit as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, be an employee in a facility that is under an outbreak protocol or referred for testing by public health for other reasons.
There are currently testing centres at the hospitals in Hanover and Kincardine as well.
People who need to get tested ahead of a planned medical procedure or to visit a long-term care facility also are eligible for testing.
Arra mentioned Thursday that there has been evidence locally of people who have recovered from COVID-19 testing positive for months afterwards. He said some of the residents at Mapleview Long-Term Care in Owen Sound who tested positive for the virus during the home’s outbreak in April were still testing somewhat positive into the summer.
He said the residual positive results are a function of the test and not lingering symptoms.
Arra said he was unaware of any of the 166 local resolved cases suffering from lingering COVID-19 symptoms that have been reported by some patients in other jurisdictions and the subject of several news reports in recent months.
“It’s difficult to confirm these things unless we have a large number of cases. These reports that COVID can have long-lasting implications on different systems in the body, I don’t believe there is great evidence on it at this point. Just because of the period of time. Maybe after five years, we can confirm with randomized trials or other studies that can confirm that COVID had these effects. At this time we just don’t have that window of time sufficient to prove these things,” Arra said.
Health units across the province reported 1,003 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.
Known active cases in Ontario now number 8,398.
Most of the new cases were reported in densely populated city centres and regions like Toronto (300), Peel Region (280), and York Region (125).
Fourteen more deaths were reported Friday which raised the number of provincial deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 3,209.
Over 41,000 tests were processed in the 24-hours preceding Friday’s data drop according to provincial health officials.