Local Public Health confirms the first three cases of COVID-19 in Kingston and area

Local Public Health confirms the first three cases of COVD-19 in Kingston

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health announced today that there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kingston in the last 24 hours.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020, Dr. Kieran Moore, Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, explained that three individuals are not hospitalized and are all currently self-isolating. The patients – two females aged 44 and 62, and a 48-year-old male – were all infected while travelling abroad, and had recently travelled to Spain, Barbados, and the United Kingdom, Moore explained. Two of the individuals were assessed at the COVID-19 assessment centre at Hotel Dieu Hospital, and the other was assessed at another local hospital.

“All individuals are recovering at home and have been put on self-isolation, and are being monitored by KFL&A Public Health. To protect the health of the public and prevent community spread, KFL&A is investigating and following up with the close contacts of these individuals,” Moore said

“Given the spread of this virus globally and now locally, over the past few weeks, a case in KFL&A was anticipated, and pre-emptive measures were in place for exactly this situation. In this case the healthcare system worked as intended, and through our coordinated efforts with our partners, the risk to individuals in KFL&A remains low.”

Moore expressed that “we are in this for the long haul,” and that Public Health will continue to work with its healthcare partners to monitor and tend to the constantly-evolving situation. He also thanked those healthcare workers who dealt with the three confirmed cases for their timely and effective efforts that helped ensure the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the region remains low.

One of the three cases was expanded on by Dr. Kimberly Morrison, Chief of Staff at Lennox and Addington County Hospital, who confirmed that a health care professional at that hospital was one of those to test positive for COVID-19. That health care professional, who developed symptoms and was assessed at Lennox and Addington County Hospital on Monday, Mar. 16, 2020, had recently travelled to Barbados. That individual is recovering at home, has been put on self-isolation, and is being monitored by KFL&A Public Health.

“To protect the health of the public and prevent community spread, KFL&A Public Health is investigating and following up with close contacts both inside and outside the hospital. Hospital staff are taking precautions to protect our patients by self-isolating appropriately. Patients in the hospital were not in contact with this staff member and are not considered to be at risk,” Lennox and Addington County Hospital said in a press release.

Moore said that any other cases that are confirmed positive will be announced on the KFL&A Public Health website.

According to Dr. Azim Kasmani, a resident doctor with KFL&A Public Health, explained who should attend the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Hotel Dieu Hospital, and why some who attend the clinic might be turned away.

Kasmani said the assessment centre allows the local healthcare network to enhance the appropriate triaging efforts, ensuring that the current primary care system and acute care systems aren’t overwhelmed. He explained that those experiencing any acute respiratory symptoms (including fever or cough) and meet one of the following two criteria should attend the COVID-19 Assessment Centre:

  • Those who have a recent travel history, or;
  • Those who have had exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“When they go to the clinic, they’ll be assessed. Appropriate patients will then undergo testing for COVID-19, but some of the individuals may not be able to be tested, just based on the availability of tests,” Kasmani said.

“[The availability of tests] changes daily from the Ministry [of Health]. We’re trying to procure more swabs for around our community as best we can, but, as we know… one of the things [the COVID-19 pandemic] has done is shutdown the global supply chain, it’s shut down factories all around the world including in Italy and China, and so we may not have enough tests,” he continued. “If someone was a high enough risk based on the assessment there, they may be instructed to go into isolation without even testing.”

Kasmani said that people who do not have any symptoms, as well as those who have not recently travelled or had contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 would be turned away.

“Testing wouldn’t be appropriate in them, and instead of having them waste their time and stand there in that centre, they would be turned away,” he said.

Anyone who is presenting symptoms, but does not meet the other two criteria, would be directed to report to KFL&A Public Health at the Assessment Centre, and then sent home to self-isolate if they are healthy enough to do so.

When asked if the public should be worried about the supply of COVID-19 tests, Kasmani said the local health network and those across the country are testing when “appropriately.”

“Testing is part of it, and we’re testing quite broadly right now, but appropriately, too. So we don’t want to waste tests. It’s not that we’re not testing, we’re testing the appropriate people” Kasmani said. “I know that the Ministry of Health is working on getting more testing capability, and that’s mostly in terms of the swabs, based on where they’re made and the global demand for them.”

Kasmani said that, before calling or going to any health authority, residents should check the information available online through KFL&A Public Health, Ontario Public Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, or the Ontario Ministry of Health, which offers a self-assessment tool online.

“They have a lot of information, so that information can really help and save a lot of time, because the waits for phone calls are so long right now just based on volume,” he said.

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