Spike in active COVID cases have HPEPH on alert

COVID-19. (Wikipedia.org)

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is warning residents in the region to remain vigilant against the community spread of COVID-19.

In the last week the number of active cases of COVID-19 has increased by 280 per cent from 30 active cases last Thursday to 114 active cases as of 11 a.m. today. While a gradual increase in case rates was expected as people move indoors, HPEPH said they are concerned by the recent spike in cases. In the interest of protecting the region and the upcoming holiday season, the local Public Health Authority is asking all residents to take action to reduce potential spread of the virus.

“Unfortunately, our case investigations are showing a disturbing trend – individuals are ignoring mild symptoms and continuing to socialize, go to work, and attend school, even with symptoms of illness,” said Dr. Ethan Toumishey Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “These choices are causing spread in households and social settings, and we have also seen transmission in a school. To protect one another, to protect our community, and to protect the upcoming holiday season, it is essential that residents step up and do the right thing. Get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and stay home if you are sick, even if you’re vaccinated.”

Hastings Prince Edward Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. 

Parents of school-aged children

While infection prevention protocols and screening have helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms throughout the pandemic, HPEPH has seen transmission of COVID-19 in one school this school year. Case investigations show that children are attending school while they have symptoms of illness, which is contributing to the spread of the virus. Parents of school-aged children are reminded that they play a key role in keeping illness out of their child’s school. They must screen their child before they attend school each dayChildren must stay home when they have any symptom of illness, even if fully vaccinated. As well, anyone who is sick, or has any symptoms of illness, including those not listed in the screening tool, should stay home.

While current COVID-19 screening protocols do not require a COVID-19 swab when individuals have a runny nose or sore throat, it is still critical to stay home when these symptoms are present in order to avoid spreading illness. Since September, 22 per cent of children in this age group who have tested positive for COVID-19 have had symptoms that are not caught in the screening tool, such as a runny nose, sore throat, headache, and extreme fatigue. Parents are urged to remain diligent and keep their child home at the first sign of any symptoms of illness.

HPEPH recognizes that it is inconvenient to keep your child home, but your choice to keep your child home when they have symptoms can help prevent keeping a class of students in isolation for 10 days, which impacts many families. Please make a responsible choice and help protect those around you, and those around your child. Your choice can help protect the holiday season for many children.

If your child is eligible for vaccination, please have them vaccinated as soon as possible. For more information about vaccination for children and youth, visit hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-vaccines-youth/.

Individuals aged 18 – 40

In the HPEC region, the largest percentage of positive COVID-19 cases is among individuals aged 18 to 40. Since September, more than 1 in 3 COVID-19 cases in the region have been among individuals in this age group. This age group also has the lowest rate of COVID-19 vaccination, which increases the potential risk of spread. Individuals aged 18 to 40 are urged to do their part to protect the community from the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home when sick with any symptoms, keeping social gatherings small and contacts consistent, and getting vaccinated.

All residents

All residents are advised to limit their close contacts by keeping any social gatherings small, and keeping contacts consistent. In addition, seek testing when you have any symptom of illness, even if fully vaccinatedThis includes having a runny nose or sore throat. While current COVID-19 screening protocols do not require a COVID-19 swab when individuals have these symptoms, it is still critical to stay home when these symptoms are present in order to avoid spreading of illness. If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, get tested.

Some individuals, especially those who are partially or fully vaccinated, may experience a very mild case of COVID-19 which may present with symptoms such as a runny nose or a sore throat. While these symptoms may be mild for the individual who is fully vaccinated, they may still transmit the virus to others who are at greater risk. Individuals who are eligible to get a booster vaccine are urged to do so as soon as possible to improve their protection and reduce their risk.