Editor's note: Health officials are holding a press conference at 1 p.m.
SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has received notification of the region’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in a local resident who recently returned from Germany and Spain. The individual is self-isolating and recovering at home.
A man in his 40s presented to and was tested at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie on Monday, March 9. The hospital took all necessary infection and control measures for COVID-19.
“The role of public health is to manage the spread of infectious diseases like this one and keep our residents safe and well,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “These are early hours in our investigation, and we are working closely with the individual to follow up on known contacts who may have potentially been exposed to the virus and possible exposure sites.”
“RVH’s team is mobilized and well-prepared to respond to COVID-19. Our frontline staff took all necessary precautions and strictly followed all infection prevention and control protocols in order to care for the patient effectively, while keeping themselves and others safe,” says RVH president and CEO Janice Skot. “I want to assure our region that RVH is very safe for patients and visitors. Our health centre remains open, and clinics and procedures continue to operate as normal.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ministry of Health advise all travellers to monitor their health for fever, cough, and difficulty breathing for 14 days after arriving back in Canada from affected countries.
If symptoms develop within 14 days, returning travellers are directed to self-isolate as quickly as possible and immediately call their health care professionals or public health to make arrangements for possible testing. If you are very sick and planning on going to the emergency room, please call ahead at 705-728-9090 and press 0.
The health unit is reminding people that they can protect themselves a number of ways, including staying at least two metres distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Stay at home if you are sick, avoid people who are obviously ill and continue to practice diligent hand washing.
“This is not unexpected given the spread of the virus around the world, and it is something that the health unit and our health care partners have been planning and preparing for,” said Dr. Gardner. “Our focus now is to break the chain of transmission to limit the spread of infection.”
For more information call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520. Health Connection’s hours are extended to 9 p.m. tonight and to 9 p.m. Friday night. Hours are also extended to Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (phone only).
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.