Huron Perth Public Health is continuing to work with local partners and stakeholders to monitor, respond and plan for the possible presence of COVID-19 in Huron and Perth counties, in alignment with provincial and Canadian planning.
On March 2, the Ontario government announced an enhanced response structure to guide the provincial response to COVID-19. Within the new structure are five regional planning and implementation tables, led by Ontario Health with support from local public health units. Huron Perth Public Health will be part of the West Region Planning and Implementation Table.
“The COVID-19 situation is evolving and we are continually reassessing our response,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Office of Health. “The public health response will continue to be proportional to the issue and evidence-based.”
Current Huron Perth Public Health activities include: surveillance, preparing for case management (such as assisting with self-isolation) and contact tracing, communications, leading local collaboration, acting as liaison with the Ontario Health Regional Planning Table, and facilitating regional plans.
Risk Remains Low
“The risk in Ontario and in Huron and Perth for the human-to-human spread of COVID-19 is still considered low,” says Dr. Klassen. “We are still in a ‘containment’ response phase – in that we are tracking and tracing each case in Canada.”
However, as the virus continues to be detected in additional countries, the Public Health Agency of Canada is advising that it may become increasingly difficult to contain the virus globally and in Canada, and the spread may well evolve into a pandemic. “Although the infection can be life-threatening, most people who have been infected with COVID-19 have not been severely ill and have not required hospital care,” explains Dr. Klassen.
Huron Perth Public Health recommends that people consider how to prepare for a time when we might have more respiratory virus in our community. Planning may include:
• Thinking of options for childcare or personal support if you, your partner or family members are sick with a viral illness.
• Refilling prescription medications and stocking up on non-perishable food in case you need to spend an increased amount of time at home due to illness or taking care of someone with an illness.
• Protect yourself from illnesses and help stop the spread by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. If one isn’t handy, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces often with regular household cleaners.
- Stay home if you are sick and do not visit hospitals, long-term care or retirement homes if you are ill.
For people who are planning to travel or returning from travel, the current recommendations are:
• Check the Public Health Agency of Canada – Travel Health Notices webpage before you go for the latest advisories.
• Be aware that the situation may change while you are away and you may get stranded where you are, or you may be required to self-isolate at home upon your return.
• It is always good practice to monitor your health after you return from travelling. If you become sick, inform your healthcare provider of your travel history.
• Take regular infection control measures while you are travelling to prevent getting sick.