'It scares me:' WECHU concerned about COVID-19 spread as 22 new cases reported

·3 min read

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit officials say they are troubled by a spike in COVID-19 infections as the unit reported 22 new cases Monday.

Of the new cases, four are healthcare workers, three are in long-term care and retirement homes, three are community acquired, three are close contacts of confirmed cases and nine are under investigation.

Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said that what concerned him most was not just the number of cases, but their spread across many different sectors.

"What we are seeing in these 22 cases ... it basically includes everything. We have one from a travel-related, we have individuals who are in healthcare, we have cases in the long-term care home, we have a case in the school, and we have cases which are community spread, which we cannot link back to anyone else," he said.

"It scares me. It gives me the indication that we are lagging in what we are doing."

The numbers include a confirmed case at Roseland Public School in Windsor. A spokesperson from the school board did not say how many students and staff have been told to self-isolate as a result of possible exposure.

Windsor-Essex has now had 2,864 confirmed cases, 77 of which are active, with 76 deaths. Two people are currently in hospital. Two long-term care or retirement homes are in outbreak — Lifetimes on Riverside retirement home has five cases, and Iller Lodge long-term care home has three cases. No workplaces are experiencing an outbreak.

Time to act

Ahmed added that the number of new infections raises the possibility that the disease could spread exponentially, which would make it much more difficult for public health officials to manage.

Though the region's recently announced alert system remains at orange, meaning medium risk of spread, Ahmed said the time to take action to control the outbreak is now.

"Every one of us, each one of us, have to do our part to keep our community safe," he said. "Once we are in the red status, the time to act would be too late."

He said that should the growth in cases continue, the region may see new measures such as lockdowns to control the spread.

Officials will be watching in the coming weeks for any new infections as a result of Halloween celebrations, though they felt that trick or treating was done safely.

"For the most part what we have heard is that people tried their best to celebrate Halloween safely," said WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette. "The bigger concerns are the home parties, so we'll see in the coming weeks how that translates into the numbers."

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton

Chatham-Kent Public Health reported a total of 410 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at last update, 32 of which are active, with three deaths.

A large number of Chatham-Kent's active cases can be linked to an outbreak at the Word of Life Church in Blenheim.

Lambton Public Health reported a total of 372 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at last update, three of which are active, with 25 deaths.