The Chief Medical Officer of Health at KFL&A Public Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has issued a Class Order of Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act to enforce self-isolation requirements for people who live in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington region.
According to Dr. Moore, a person could be fined up to $5000 a day if they did not quarantine for the required 14 day period when they: have been diagnosed with COVID-19; or, have symptoms of the illness; or, are waiting for COVID-19 test results; or, have reason to believe that they have symptoms of COVID-19; or, are a close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“As restrictions begin to loosen at the provincial and local levels, more people will be out in the community and therefore (it is) more important than ever to ensure that those who need to self-isolate do so for the protection of all residents,” said Dr. Moore. “This class order will strengthen our ability to reduce the risk of people contracting COVID-19 and preserve and protect the capacity of our health care system to respond and provide care for those who need it.”
This announcement comes after an outbreak of 30 cases of COVID-19 as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2020 in the Kingston area, all connected to seven cases that came from Binh’s Nail Salon in the west end of Kingston. Dr. Moore issued the order because he had learned that people were not adhering to the recommendations made by nurses and public health officials after the outbreak at Binh’s occurred. Public Health heard of two individuals anonymously that were not self-isolating, which Dr. Moore says he felt dismayed to hear.
“When I heard of this action by two individuals I thought it was careless,” he said. “In the face of an outbreak it was inappropriate.”
He says that these measures come in place to protect the community and that this order is “proportionate to the risk.”
“I think this adds an extra layer of protection to our community that these individuals will now not flaunt the advice given to them by public health,” he said. “I always want to be driven by data and I feel it is prudent and reasonable to put it in play now that we’ve shown that individuals weren’t adhering to the recommendations of Public Health.”
To enforce this order, Public Health officers will be calling every individual who has been ordered to self-isolate every day of their quarantine and if they do not answer the phone, Public Health officers then have a warrant to show up at the person’s home to see if they are there. If the person is not there, then they will be fined unless they have a “very good reason” that they are not home, Dr. Moore said.
How the mask mandate is going so far
In the press conference, Dr. Moore also mentioned that the mask mandate seemed to be getting a relatively positive response from the community.
“I have had many positive emails about implementing this mandate,” he said. “Many members of our community feel more confident going out to businesses.”
However, he did mention that he had been getting emails with concerns as well, mainly from people who work in child care and he said that he recommends going over the list of exemptions from wearing a mask if someone does have a significant concern.
“You can just tell the business that you’re seeking an exemption for a medical business and that business should allow you to attend because everyone else around you should be masked and should be doing good hand hygiene.”
Lineups at testing centres
In the press conference, Dr. Moore also addressed complaints about physical distancing in the long lineups at the Memorial Centre testing centre over the weekend.
According to Dr.Moore, KFL&A Public Health is not responsible for the assessment sites and they are operated in partnership between Ontario Health and the Kingston Health Sciences Centre. However, he did mention that wearing a mask outside is not mandated under Section 22 but it is recommended when in a line to get tested for COVID-19.
“It’s only reasonable if you’re getting tested for COVID-19 that you wear a mask in the line and that physical distancing is in place,” he said.
He also mentioned that he is aware of the testing centres looking into apps for scheduling, to ease up on the lines.
The testing centre has been moved to the Leon’s Centre and there will be another drive-through testing centre at St. Lawrence College in the near future.
The Police Investigation into Binh’s
It was released earlier on Jun. 30, 2020 that Kingston Police has opened an investigation into Binh’s Nail Salon due to information received that they had opened prior to the start of Phase 2 on Jun. 12, 2020.
Dr. Moore said that Public Health has not tested anyone who had visited Binh’s Nail Salon prior to that date.
“During the official opening days we had not ascertained any individual who had potentially been at that clinic and they shouldn’t have been at that clinic before June 12,” he said. “From our vantage point we have not had any positive cases who had been to that facility in advance of the official opening.”
He also clarified that the investigation is not under the jurisdiction of Public Health.
“We are not part of the investigation,” he said. “I would hope that if they had been providing services that they would have done safely but we have no evidence of any infection or transmission of COVID-19 before the opening date.”
Students returning in the fall
Dr. Moore also addressed the concerns for another, larger wave when students of Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and the Royal Military College come back to Kingston in the fall.
According to him, Public Health has been working with the Council of Colleges and Universities to help with guidance on how to prepare for the fall, as well as working diligently with RMC, St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University.
He said that Public Health has visited the sites and anticipates that each school will be setting up testing centres for both students and faculty. Public Health has also worked with each school for plans on isolation if there is an outbreak among those communities.
“We absolutely anticipate that some students will still want to come back to Kingston to socialize,” he said. “We will be vigilant to help monitor the health of the population and to minimise the risk to our community.”