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Rising COVID cases in Grey-Bruce continue to stem from private gatherings

Public health officials say the transmission source for local COVID-19 cases are often attributed to local residents travelling outside of the region, meeting with family and friends and returning home infected
2021_05_07 Dinner party_Stock_Unsplash_JG
The Medical Officer of Health of Grey Bruce Health Unit is asking the public to continue to practice the 3W's - washing hands frequently, watching your distance and wearing a mask. Stock photo.

Public health officials are pleading with residents to continue to stay the course with personal COVID-19 safety measures for the next three to four weeks as local case counts continue to rise. 

“The variants, the fatigue, and the higher number of close contracts, which is related to the fatigue of COVID as well – this is a time to have all hands on deck,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the GBHU. 

Arra reports that the health unit has been witnessing higher case numbers in recent weeks, with local cases rising from two to three cases per day to seven to eight cases per day. 

“This is not the time to lower our guard,” he said, adding that if the provincial government had not enacted the provincial lockdown, the region would have likely moved into the yellow zone of the province’s reopening framework. 

“If there were no lockdown, we would have been in the yellow. Our numbers have been going up and that was my recommendation and discussion with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, that that would be appropriate for our area and would send the right message, reflective of the data. Nevertheless, now there's a lockdown,” Arra stated. 

As of April 6, GBHU has reported a total of 871 cases in the region, 63 active cases in both counties combined, and 400 high-risk contacts associated with the active cases.

The health unit has also had a total of 63 variant cases, 21 of which are active. 

As far as transmission sources for the recently rising cases, Arra notes that the main source of transmission continues to be small, private gatherings.

“Transmission is happening when people lower their guard. And that generally happens when the situation is not regulated. It's generally when we gather with family and friends. If we lower our guard, we're going to be exposed to it,” Arra said. 

Fiona Fryer, public health nurse and COVID-19 case manager with GBHU added that transmission seems to be occurring less frequently from visitors coming into Grey and Bruce and more frequently from local residents travelling outside of the region, meeting with friends or family and returning home infected. 

“It is not so much about people coming here, it's people from our area going to visit friends and family in a red zone or a lockdown area, and then they think they just have a cold and they come back and they have the disease,” Fryer said.  

“As much as we are all tired and we all want to get together with our families again, it's the getting together and being within six feet of each other, with or without a mask, this is when people are getting sick,” she continued. 

Both Arra and Fryer encourage anyone experiencing COVID or cold-like symptoms to be tested as soon as possible. 

“There's really no such thing as the cold right now. If you have anything that seems like a cold, go and get tested or give us a call,” Fryer said. 

Grey Bruce Health Services has four locations for COVID-19 testing - the Owen Sound, Southampton, Wiarton and Lion’s Head Hospitals. Pre-booked appointments are required, and walk-ins are not accepted. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 519-378-1466.

Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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