EOHU Holds Teleconference about First Case of COVID-19 in its Area
Today, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), held a teleconference to provide more information about the first positive case of COVID-19 in the health unit’s area.
First Case in EOHU Area
The first case is a female in her 30s from the Prescott-Russell area. She is a nursing student at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, who returned home from a trip to New York on March 9th and developed mild symptoms of cough as well as generalized aches and pain. On March 12th, she presented herself to the emergency department at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria.
The hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including infection control, testing, and assessment. Following testing, the patient was discharged home where she remains in self-isolation and is improving.
Late in the afternoon on March 14th, the test came back confirming that the woman had COVID-19.
To date this is the only positive COVID-19 case in the EOHU region.
Public Health Investigation
The province received the information about a positive case and updated their website immediately at 5:30 on March 14th. This information was released by the province before the EOHU was able to issue a press release. However, the health unit had already begun the process of contact tracing to determine who might have been exposed to the woman.
The EOHU’s investigation determined that the positive student attended only one class at St. Lawrence College after returning from New York. This was on March 10th, the day after her return. She also attended a group meeting with 3 people on this same date. At this time, she had no respiratory symptoms. Symptoms only developed the next day.
Close Contacts Being Monitored and Self-Isolating
Out of an abundance of caution, the EOHU identified 4 potential close contacts of the woman, who are now being monitored and are self-isolating. One is a contact from the class the woman attended, and the other 3 are the students who were part of the group meeting.
Beyond these contacts, there was no threat to the rest of the campus, including residences. St. Lawrence College has made the decision to close the campus. The EOHU does not feel that the College was at risk because of this single positive case, since we have been diligent in tracking down the contacts of this case, and her exposure was limited.
However, we do support the closing of the campus as part of our collective social distancing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in general. Again, this is not because of this specific case, but because we have recommended the closing of schools and other gathering places in general.
For more information about COVID-19, please consult EOHU.ca/coronavirus and Ontario’s website at Ontario.ca/coronavirus, where you’ll find the new self-assessment tool.