Windsor-Essex health unit says contact tracing tells them recent spike in cases is not a trend

·3 min read

Windsor's top doctor is staying calm after Tuesday's COVID-19 spike of 17 cases, since most of those cases can be traced to close contact with one infected individual.

That information underlines the importance of contact tracing in managing the pandemic, said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed.

The unit reported three new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.

Two of the cases are from close contact with an infected individual, and one is still under investigation. Of the 17 cases reported Tuesday, 12 were from close contact, three were from community transmission and two are still under investigation.

Nine of the 12 close contact cases reported Tuesday were individuals sharing a single household.

Ahmed acknowledged that although the number of new cases reported Tuesday was bad news, the good news is that public health officials could trace the majority of cases to close contact.

"Which means it's not 12 separate individuals who have acquired the disease separately in the community," he explained.

"Which would pose that there is an ongoing transmission that's happening out there with either people not knowing about their diagnoses, or people not following their isolation recommendations and are spreading it to other people."

"So that is not happening, which is a good sign."

Cases due to close contact, not Thanksgiving

Ahmed said that he did not think the bump in cases Tuesday was connected to the Thanksgiving long weekend. He said that the bump was mostly due to infected individuals being in high risk close contact with others by sharing a household.

Contact tracing allows the health unit to monitor these cases and contact anyone who may have been near them. This allows for better management and containment of the virus' spread.

People who have been in high risk close contact with an infected person — by sharing a residence, for example — are advised to follow a range of measures. These include self-isolation, postponing elective healthcare, and to remain reachable by public health authorities for investigation.

People who have been in low risk close contact — such as having been in the same store as an infected individual — are encouraged to monitor themselves for symptoms, seek testing, and contact the health unit immediately if they develop symptoms. The health unit may or may not contact them, depending on the circumstances.

Ahmed said that the health unit chose to emphasize contact tracing in Wednesday's briefing not only because most of the new cases could be traced, but also because there's been some confusion about low risk close contacts. He said that just because someone has been in low risk contact does not mean they will not become infected.

"When people are identified as a low risk contact, maybe they do not think that they need to do anything," he said. "So we wanted to take this opportunity to remind who are these low risk contacts, and how these low risk contacts could turn out to be positive."

Windsor-Essex has now had 2,815 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 42 of which are active, with 76 deaths.

Two workplaces continue to experience outbreaks — a construction workplace in Lakeshore, and a food and beverage workplace in Kingsville. No long-term care homes in Windsor are currently experiencing outbreaks.

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton

CK Public Health reported 401 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at last update, 27 of which are active, with three deaths.

A large increase in cases in Chatham-Kent this week are linked to an outbreak at a single church.

Lambton Public health reported 369 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at last update, three of which are active, with 25 deaths.