Twelve new cases reported Thursday, Health Unit wants people to get back to basics

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. The Canadian Press

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Twelve new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Grey Bruce Health Unit Thursday as public health officials implored residents to get back to the basics of fighting the virus.

According to Thursday’s report, there are 17 probable cases and 211 high-risk contacts to go along with the 53 confirmed active COVID-19 cases now in the region.

The new cases were reported in Southgate (6), Hanover (2), Owen Sound, The Blue Mountains, Kincardine and Grey Highlands.

The health unit also announced Thursday that there is a COVID-19 case associated with Sacred Heart High School in Walkerton. Staff and students who have had close contact with the affected case have been notified by public health and are isolating. The school is not under a COVID-19 outbreak because there has so far been no evidence of transmission within the school.

A media release distributed by the health unit moments before Thursday’s summary of cases said that if this trend continues, case management and contact tracing used to maintain control of the situation will be challenged.

“Based on the increase in numbers, most likely, the Grey Bruce Health Unit will be moving from the Green to the Yellow level of Ontario’s COVID-19 colour-coded framework in the imminent future. This means greater restrictions and enhanced enforcement – including operational restrictions on bars and restaurants, sports and recreational facilities, personal care services, retail spaces and other businesses – an outcome that none of us desires. Collectively, it is in our control to change course,” the release said.

Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce’s medical officer of health, said COVID-19 fatigue is partly to blame for the trend. He wants Grey-Bruce residents to refocus on the basic measures of preventing transmission such as washing hands, wearing a mask in public places, avoiding crowds, keeping a safe distance and staying home when sick.

“Hopefully with the increased number of cases, people are going to become more concerned and the engagement will be invested, or people will be more mindful,” Arra said.

So far, Arra said, the health unit has been able to make contact with all positive COVID-19 cases within 24-hours, but as cases become more varied and spread out that may be more difficult.

The health unit is also suggesting people avoid travel to COVID-19 hotspots and minimize non-essential travel altogether.

“People need to go back to the basics. If there is no essential reason, people really shouldn’t just be going somewhere for the sake of visiting or any other reason,” Arra said.

He said that about half of the cases in the past four or five weeks have been related to somebody travelling to a different health unit or hot-spot, or having a friend from another area visit them.

Of the 256 people in Grey-Bruce to contract COVID-19, 189 have recovered and 14 have been referred to other health units.

Two patients are currently hospitalized in Grey-Bruce with confirmed cases of COVID-19. No deaths have been attributed to the disease locally, and there are currently no COVID-19 outbreaks at any local long-term care facilities, daycares of schools in Grey-Bruce.

Public health units throughout Ontario reported 1,210 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. Most of the new cases were reported in Peel Region (361) and Toronto (346). There were 143 cases reported in York Region. Eleven additional health units reported new cases in the double digits.

There are at least 526 people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 88 on ventilators.

Twenty-eight more deaths were linked to the disease Thursday.

Bruce Power has launched a $1 million commitment to help Grey-Bruce double down in its efforts to limit transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

“Focused on Grey, Bruce and Huron counties, the company will make a $1 million commitment and work with public health, county and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local MPs and MPPs, and community organizations to redouble efforts to battle the pandemic,” the company said Thursday in a news release.

The “Be a Light: Beating COVID-19 Together” campaign will focus on five areas: public awareness, providing protection, buying local, mental and physical health and lending a helping hand.

“In the coming days, Bruce Power will be announcing specific contributions and initiatives associated with each of these five areas as time and action is of the essence to respond to the urgent situation Ontario and our communities face,” the release stated.

Bruce Power said it will utilize community media to help reinforce guidance from local public health officials while continuing to help source personal protective equipment and monitoring equipment.

Bruce Power also announced a $50,000 investment to leverage the Grey-Bruce-Huron Strong platform to support local businesses.

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