Infectious Disease Prevention – COVID Response
May 19, 2022
COVID-19 Case and Contact Management- Q1 2022 Report
Due to the unique characteristics of the Omicron variant, the Case and Contact Management (CCM) guidelines and testing eligibility were revised to ensure that workers and families in highest risk settings are protected implementing changes to Ministry guidance documents. As a result of the changes to the provincial guidance in the context of Omicron, the WECHU is only investigated COVID-19 cases associated with highest risk settings (e.g. hospitals, congregate settings, long-term care homes). During Q1, Non-highest risk cases were contacted to ensure isolation was implemented and education and other resources provided. There was a need for redeployment of WECHU staff from various departments to manage this surge associated with the Omicron variant.
The Omicron surge brought with it changes to CCM and isolation guidelines to ensure those living, volunteering, and working in the highest risk settings continue to be protected. The CCM Team updated practice to align with the current Ministry guidance, including the creation of CCM tip sheets for various highest risk settings (e.g., Long-term Care Homes/Retirement Homes and hospitalized patients). To help residents navigate the various changes to COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements, the Team collaborated with the Communications Department to provide up-to-date content and guidance changes for the WECHU website. This included changes to workplace and school screening and instructions for non-highest risk settings (e.g., schools, daycares, workplaces).
In January 2022, the Province of Ontario updated its COVID-19 guidance for seasonal IAWs, in order to manage cases and close contacts and control the ongoing transmission of COVID-19 in farm operator-provided accommodations. This guidance required that third-party health assessments be provided for all IAWs exposed to, or testing positive for, COVID-19 and their close contacts. CCM staff collaborated with staff from the EH department to create the COVID-19 Farm Operator Communication Guidance document that summarized the recent changes and resulting process updates. This information was shared during a live webinar for farm operators and provided WECHU an opportunity to address any questions or outstanding issues.
Despite the shift in case and contact management guidance to investigating only cases associated with highest risk settings, staff completed 14, 295 case investigations between January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2022.
Partnerships, both internally and externally, have been integral to CCM and have occurred throughout the pandemic. The WECHU has numerous community partners, including the City of Windsor, the Canadian Red Cross and the Windsor-Essex Emergency Medical Services (EMS) who together, ensure that individuals who need isolation support and health assessments receive these services (e.g., at the Isolation and Recovery Centre [IRC]).
The WECHU partnered with Community Living Windsor and Essex, to build the capacity of their staff to conduct COVID-19 testing on staff and residents. Windsor-Regional Hospital continues to partner in CCM, providing information required to complete case and contact investigations and infection prevention and control measures in outbreaks. Internally, the CCM staff work with the Outbreak Team/Infectious Disease Prevention Department, and the Environmental Health Department (EH) (i.e., Public Health Inspectors) to manage and identify outbreaks related to the highest risk settings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for WECHU staff to work together to provide support and educational resources to a variety of sectors. The WECHU is committed to working with community partners and conducting CCM in a timely fashion to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The team will continue to revise plans as Ministry guidelines and direction change.