353 new COVID-19 cases, but WECHU cautions numbers are underrepresented

·2 min read
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 353 new cases Wednesday, but cautioned the number is not accurate.  (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 353 new cases Wednesday, but cautioned the number is not accurate. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting two more people have died due to COVID-19 and there are 353 new cases reported for the region Wednesday, but public health is cautioning case numbers are underrepresented.

Due to changes in testing and backlogs in results, WECHU is stressing once again that case counts are no longer an accurate indicator of how badly the virus is tracking within the community.

"We recognize for the past two years we've used case counts as a burden of illness," said acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, during a media briefing Wednesday.

"I think we are evaluating the correct approach."

WECHU and the rest of the province must decide what indicators — such as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, people on ventilators, or absenteeism from workplaces or schools — might be the best measure for the burden of the disease in communities.

As of Wednesday morning, WECHU reported 45 people locally are hospitalized with COVID-19, including eight people in the intensive care units.

Nesathurai said he hopes the province will offer a framework to measure what that burden is, but for now they are closely watching local hospitals and tracking absenteeism as they are able to.

WECHU has shifted their resources due to provincial change, focusing case and contact management on "high-risk" settings such as long-term care homes, and on a major push for vaccination.

There are eight local retirement and long-term care homes under outbreak.

As case and contact management shifted to the province, individuals are responsible for their own self-monitoring if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

"I think it's important for everyone to realize its always been a bit of an honour system," said WECHU CEO Nicole Dupuis, explaining that when the health unit would do their own investigations, it was up to individuals to disclose their close contacts and personal information.

"We feel confident that people will inform their contacts and let them know," said Dupuis. "With the new restrictions ... there will be a lot less person to person interaction so I would think the number of contacts would be small at this time."

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