Huron Perth Public Health investigating COVID-19 case at local school

Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health, Huron Perth Public Health.

Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) has confirmed the region’s first school-related exposure to COVID-19.

The investigation into a recent case, found a member of the school community at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School in Stratford is a probable case of COVID-19.

HPPH investigators have determined that the case was at the school when they may have been infectious, however, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen said this is a low-risk situation for the school community and the public at large.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we will be taking the situation seriously to prevent the possible spread of the virus in a school,” she said.

Due to privacy considerations, HPPH will not be publically disclosing any further details about the probable case, or the number of close contacts at the school. The school will remain open.

Klassen said during a case and contact investigation into the confirmed case, HPPH determined that the school community member was a suspect, and then probable, case. A probable case of COVID-19 is currently defined as a case where a physician strongly suspects COVID-19 and additional factors are involved, including:

o Patient has travel history and/or
o Patient has contact with a known case and/or
o Patient has symptoms but testing has not been carried out.

She noted that all individuals awaiting testing results are not probable cases. As well, probable and suspect cases do not appear on the HPPH website of confirmed case counts.

“Public health only reports confirmed cases received through testing for surveillance purposes to help us understand the burden of disease in our community,” said Dr. Klassen. “Knowing how much interest there is in our schools and in keeping them open, and because this is the first school-related exposure in our area, we’d like to again inform the public about our process for managing confirmed or probable cases in schools.”

Going forward, HPPH will not routinely comment on individual probable or confirmed cases in a school setting, unless there is an outbreak or there are other public health considerations for the community at large.