VIDEO: COVID-19 emergency declared in Chatham-Kent

(Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent via Facebook)

Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health has declared a local emergency for Chatham-Kent to deal with COVID-19.

At this point, though, there are have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent and, according to local public health officials, the risk for the general public in Chatham-Kent remains low.

Dr. David Colby said the emergency declaration is not meant to scare anyone but to allow for the redeployment of staff to assist where and when necessary.

“I would like to be very clear that declaring a local emergency is in no way meant to induce panic, and residents should not interpret it as such,” said Colby. “Rather, it allows us flexibility to use an “all-hands-on-deck” approach as we take the necessary preventative measures across our community.”

He said social distancing measures [keeping a distance from others by at least one metre], especially school closures, before the virus spreads in the community have been shown to be one of the most powerful interventions to slow the spread of disease.

“When taken early, and when coordinated with additional efforts, these precautionary actions will help to prevent the impact that COVID-19 could have on Chatham-Kent residents” added Colby.

Colby said we all have a role to play, and it is imperative that we all work together and do what we must now to ensure that we do not put ourselves in a position where increased and impossible demands are placed on our healthcare system in weeks to come.

“The risk for the amplification or super-spreading within the community or a healthcare setting would be devastating,” he said. “Especially in a community such as ours where nearly 40 per cent of residents are over the age of 55, and many more have serious, chronic medical conditions.”

Dr. Colby is also issuing the following orders for Chatham-Kent (updated at 7:40 p.m. on March 13, 2020)

  • – all day camps, programs and organized activities that allow for the close interaction between children and youth are to be canceled
  • – all public and private schools to be closed from March 14th-April 5th
  • – all licensed childcare facilities to be closed from March 14th-April 5th (at this time, this does not apply to home-based childcare settings)
  • – the ban of all mass gatherings of 250+ people (included in that maximum is the number of staff in place to support the event)
  • – anyone aged up to 0-17 years who has travelled internationally, including to the United States, will self-isolate for 14 days upon their return, and no individuals returning home from international travel will be able to attend school or childcare for 14 days
  • – adults who travel internationally, including the United States, will be asked to self-monitor upon their return and isolate themselves if they become ill

A list of community-based measures to lessen the spread of the disease is also available by clicking here.

Additional recommendations for social distancing include:

  • – limiting the distance between yourselves and another individual by at least one metre
  • – limit social interactions by avoiding large gatherings such as celebrations, sporting and entertainment events, religious services and entertainment venues
  • – working remotely when and if possible
  • – minimizing direct contact with people such as handshaking

The Chatham-Kent Public Library has also cancelled all programs and events at all branches, including the March Break programming and all low-income tax clinics. The cancellations come as a preventative measure to minimize the possible spread of COVID-19.

Any residents with questions on the above measures, or any other questions regarding COVID-19 are asked to visit www.ckpublichealth.com/covid19 or email covid19@chatham-kent.ca.