Haldimand-Norfolk health unit ‘strongly recommends’ against trick-or-treating this Halloween

·3 min read

A golf course near Caledonia is closed to the public and admissions to Haldimand War Memorial Hospital’s in-patient ward are on hold as the two facilities contend with COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Dunnville hospital tightened access after two staff members tested positive late last week.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have ceased all admissions to, and discharges from, the Inpatient Unit,” said interim president and CEO Sharon Moore.

“We have also closed the unit to visitors, and are now testing all patients there as well as staff assigned to this area of the hospital.”

The two affected employees are self-isolating at home.

Meanwhile, the doors of MontHill Golf and Country Club have been shut since Oct. 20 after two employees tested positive and all staff went to get tested.

Those tests revealed that two additional employees had contracted COVID-19.

In a statement released Oct. 23, club management said they was “very taken aback” when the health unit decided to extend the shutdown as the investigation into the outbreak continues.

“We have worked extremely hard on being open and transparent throughout this entire process and will continue to do so moving forward,” MontHill’s statement read.

“We hope Public Health’s decision to temporarily close our doors does not affect other businesses who are trying to be proactive with regards to their communications with the public about issues surrounding COVID-19.”

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s chief medical officer of health, said MontHill was ordered to stay closed in consideration of employees’ health and to limit the chance of transmitting the virus to the public. He noted that there is a higher risk of transmission at the club’s restaurant since diners spend prolonged time indoors without wearing masks.

“It’s not the first time that a food-service institution has been asked to curtail its activities,” Nesathurai said.

On Sunday, the Grand Erie District School Board announced positive COVID-19 tests at two Caledonia public schools. The board did not say whether those affected at McKinnon Park Secondary School and River Heights Public School are students or staff members.

A “cohort” of people connected to each case has been instructed to self-isolate, Nesathurai said, without providing specifics.

Both school were open on Monday.

The outbreaks are part of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases locally. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit reported 18 new cases between Thursday and Monday, putting the active caseload at 26, with 125 people in self-isolation.

Nesathurai said some of these cases are “likely related” to a “relaxation” of COVID precautions and increased travel and family gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The health unit is asking residents to forgo trick-or-treating this Halloween in order to “minimize human-to-human interaction.”

“The public health service continues to strongly recommend that people not engage in traditional trick-or-treating,” Nesathurai said, suggesting that residents opt for dressing up at home and hosting virtual parties online.

Since the pandemic began, 526 Haldimand-Norfolk residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 463 recoveries and 32 deaths. Five patients died of unrelated causes.

J.P. Antonacci’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows him to report on stories about the regions of Haldimand and Norfolk.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator