News Release: March 24 Public Health Updates Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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For Immediately Release
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. | Windsor-Essex County
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit continues to work with the Ministry of Health, local health care providers, and municipal partners to monitor and coordinate the response to COVID-19 as the situation evolves in the province and the community. Protecting the health and wellbeing of the residents of Windsor and Essex County remains our top priority.
- To date, we have 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.
- Overall, 500 individuals have been tested for COVID-19; and 329 tests are pending.
- There are 2,091 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 503 cases in Ontario, with 6 deaths
***These numbers are as of March 24, 8:30 am
Individuals who suspect they have COVID-19 can consult the COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool on the Ontario Government site.
What is happening locally?
In a memo to the healthcare system, Dr. Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, identified the need in high-risk circumstances for healthcare workers that work in multiple settings to “coordinate arrangements for staff to only work in one institution.” Health risks related to COVID-19 are most severe among individuals over the age of 60 and individuals with compromised immune system due to underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. The risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 and the mortality rate is highest among these groups. Patients in Acute care and Long Term Care facilities are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the age of the populations they serve, existing and underlying medical conditions of patients and the difficulty in completely isolating from others. In light of the vulnerability of patients in these settings and the risk of spread of COVID-19, Dr. Wajid Ahmed is strongly recommending that all healthcare workers especially those who work in Long Term care homes and are employed in multiple settings restrict to their work to one institution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US and Canadian border continues to be a concern for the WECHU. While the announcement of closure of all non-essential workplaces in Ontario is helpful to mitigate risks for Windsor-Essex and supports social distancing, it does little for the many residents who are employed just over the border in Michigan. The WECHU hopes to work with federal and provincial governments to discuss cross border issues related to essential travel in particular healthcare workers. With Michigan cases close to exceeding the number for all of Canada, the WECHU remains concerned about the potential risk of continued travel to and from work of our residents to Michigan and calls for stronger actions by all levels of government.
“The WECHU continues to field calls from concerned and confused residents who work over the border or have loved ones who cross the border daily. As the COVID-19 situation continues to escalate along our borders strong action is needed that is in the best interest of our community,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health
Current Provincial Guidance & Restrictions
The province is providing guidance, recommendations and restrictions on a regular basis to public health. As of March 18th, 2020, under the provincial Emergency Act the following orders are in place until March 31st:
- Anyone traveling outside of Canada should self-isolate for 14 days upon return. If symptoms develop during self-isolation, including fever and/or cough call public health at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420.
- Closure of all Ontario Parks to visitors
- Closure of all licenced child care centres
- Closure of all public schools (Until April 6th)
- Closure of all public libraries
- Closure of all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
- Closure of all private schools as defined in the Education Act
- Closure of all Theatres and movie theatres
- Closure of all concert venues
- Closure of all Casinos (until further notice)
- Closure of all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery
- Closure of all non-essential workplaces
- Long Term Care, Retirement Facilities, Hospice, and residential care facilities only permit essential visitors and actively screen visitors for symptoms and travel history, excluding entry if failed screening
- Suspension of all non-essential travel outside of Canada
- Social distancing (2 Metres)
Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.
These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures. Orders are being actively enforced.
Current recommendations from Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health
Dr. Wajid Ahmed supports all of the recommendations and restrictions provided by the Government of Ontario for the City of Windsor and County of Essex. As well Dr. Ahmed recommends:
- Closure of retail outlets including those that sell clothes, apparel, books, home décor. Failure to follow recommendation will result in an order.
- Closure of all personal service settings (hair salons, nail salons etc.). Failure to follow recommendation will result in an order.
- All residents returning from travel outside of Canada self-isolate for 14-days upon return, including essential workers returning from non-essential travel
- Seniors and high risk individuals should avoid any non-essential trips and stay home as much as possible
- Commuters that cross to Detroit for work purposes should consider work from home options with their employer where possible and regularly self-monitor for any symptoms including taking their temperature.
- Employers in Windsor and Essex should make arrangements for their employees to work from home whenever possible. If work from home is not an option, please ensure that your workplace follow the 2 meter social distancing measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees and the community. For additional details on workplaces including environmental cleaning, please follow guidance for employees and employer section on our website.
- Physicians should screen clients over the phone and use telemedicine options to determine if in-person appointment is necessary and refer as appropriate.
- Create an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you have what you need in case of self-isolation.
- Wash hands with soap & water thoroughly and often.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected.
- Stay home when you are sick; call your health care provider for advice and take the online self assessment tool for COVID-19
The WECHU encourages the public to follow credible sources for information about COVID-19. The WECHU monitors and updates our website daily. For up to date facts visit www.wechu.org
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19