Lambton MOH says Shell COVID-19 report under investigation

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade (Photo from Lambton Public Health)

Lambton County’s Medical Officer of Health says they’re not hiding COVID-19 cases, and are looking into an unconfirmed case reported by Shell Canada Tuesday.

In his morning radio interview with Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) Dr. Sudit Ranade said they’re working to verify if the contractor who visited Shell’s Sarnia site earlier this month, is indeed a positive case.

Shell said it was notified of the case by the contractor company, and there was no confirmation that the individual, from out-of-province, had COVID-19 while at the Corunna plant.

“It’s very important to be clear about whether or not that was a confirmed case and get some proof that it was or it wasn’t,” said Ranade. “If there was proof that that was a case, then we can start going back and say what is the degree of exposure in the community? Because the exposure may not have been limited to the workplace, it may have also been in the community and we need to figure out what that is. But our first step is to always say is this a true case, before we can move onto contact tracing.”

Dr. Ranade said businesses and organizations should communicate with Lambton Public Health first.

“So that’s exactly why we want organizations to let us know about these things so that we can start the process of figuring out whether it’s true. The first step in getting that information is always to validate it. Is it true? Do we have proof of a COVID-19 diagnosis? Then we can move forward with it, because otherwise, you’re chasing something that ends up not being what you’re looking for.”

The medical officer of health also assured the community it’s not covering up cases.

“We have no interest in hiding cases of COVID-19,” he said. “We want people to know because actually that will help people take it more seriously. But, we don’t have anything to report because there aren’t any positive cases that we identified yet. Having said that, we are waiting for test results every day, and whenever we process them if there’s a positive we’ll start our investigation and report to the community that it’s there.”

Doctor Ranade stressed again that while they had no positive lab results as of Wednesday morning, they’re telling the community to act as if the virus is here and take seriously the preventative measures being ordered by federal, provincial and local health authorities.

As of Wednesday morning, Lambton Public Health was reporting that an estimated 40 tests had been processed and returned with negative results, but about 60 additional tests were still pending lab results.

-With files from Sue Storr