CK MOH wants to avoid regional COVID-19 deja vu

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / terryphotos

Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health is taking a cautious approach after the province announced this week it’s putting the responsibility for future COVID-19 restrictions on regional public health units.

Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby has previously said he won’t hesitate to impose tougher public health restrictions than what the province mandates if need be. On Thursday, Colby said Chatham-Kent doesn’t want to go back to the problems associated with the old provincial colour-coded system when people restricted in one region would travel to a non-restricted neighbouring region to do what was restricted in their hometown, such as hair cuts.

“We’ve been through this before in the pandemic. If you have vastly different restrictions in adjacent health units, it does create a problem and even if you create a regional approach, there is a boundary somewhere with another region,” said Colby. “We had a situation early on when we were in that colour-coding stage of management when you could get hair cuts in Chatham-Kent but not in Windsor and we had all kinds of people coming here from a very high incidence and prevalence jurisdiction coming into Chatham-Kent. We want to avoid that kind of situation in the future.”

Windsor-Essex was a COVID-19 hot zone at the time and he wants to avoid that situation in the future, adding we’ll have to see how it plays out.

Colby said there’s a role for local medical officers of health to play to tailor responses to what is happening in their own jurisdictions and he’s here to make sure that Chatham-Kent is not left unprotected. Colby once again repeated what he vowed to do early in the pandemic, that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the people of Chatham-Kent safe.

“I don’t relax while there’s a pandemic taking place,” he said when asked if he feels good about the low COVID-19 numbers in the area currently.

Dr. Colby also said the very aggressive case identification and contact management system at Chatham-Kent Public Health remains a key part of keeping the new infections at bay in the municipality.

“I was hoping that in the post-vaccination era that we would largely be able to dispense with that but that has not been the case and our contact tracing functions are as important as ever,” he said.

Colby is also delighted that the local hospitals are not overwhelmed and congested and he wants to keep it that way.

Two new outbreaks have cropped up in Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent Public Health declared the outbreaks on Thursday at McNaughton Avenue Public School in Chatham and St. Ursula Catholic School in Chatham. The two schools have a total of five cases. The municipality currently has a total of seven outbreaks that have a combined 27 cases.

On Friday, the public health unit also reported eight new cases and five resolved cases to bring the total number of active cases up to 55.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is reporting two residents at the Chatham hospital with the virus but they are not in the ICU or on a ventilator.

The province is reporting 793 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths linked to the virus.