The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) says new, stricter protocols on testing and isolation are in place as COVID-19 cases involving variants of concern rise across the province as well as locally.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health, said due to an update in provincial case and contact management protocol, households are required to isolate if any members have COVID-19 symptoms or are awaiting test results.
The have to quarantine until the person receives a negative test result or an alternative diagnosis.
As well, the health unit is now using a lower threshold for high-risk contact, and all cases involving the more contagious variants of concern (VOC) are prioritized for follow up.
Contacts who initially test negative following a VOC exposure will have to be tested a second time to account for the virus' incubation period, Ahmed explained.
"Especially in the VOC cases, we would want everyone to get tested again at day 10," he said at the health unit's daily briefing on Monday.
511 variant of concern cases
WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said 511 confirmed and preliminary variants of concern have been identified locally.
Starting on Monday, the health unit said it's also disclosing the strain involved in each variant case, as identified through preliminary testing, whereas previously the information was not provided until after additional confirmation took place.
"We hope that this will help everyone understand the different VOCs circulating in our community," Ahmed said.
In total, 430 of the local cases are the variant first reported in the U.K.
Meanwhile, the health unit reported 41 cases of COVID-19 on Monday. In total there are 457 COVID-19 cases active, and 12 people are in hospital.
Since December, 119,275 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 131,981 doses of vaccine have been administered overall.
The health unit announced Monday that residents in hotspot postal codes will be able to access free taxi service to a vaccine clinic thanks to a new initiative from the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 14,844 COVID-19 cases recorded in Windsor-Essex and 409 deaths, according to WECHU.
Of the new cases announced Monday, 18 are close contacts of previously confirmed cases, nine were community acquired and 14 are under investigation.
There are seven ongoing outbreaks.
They include one school outbreak in St. John Vianney Catholic School in Windsor.
Six workplaces have active outbreaks, including:
One in Leamington's agriculture sector.
Three in Windsor's health care & social assistance sector.
One in LaSalle's manufacturing sector.
One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton
There was one new case of COVID-19 reported in Lambton County on Monday. Overall, there are 99 active cases and one remaining outbreak.
In Chatham-Kent, 17 new cases were announced. There are 38 active cases and four outbreaks.