Lambton’s top doc urges residents to heed travel advisory

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade ( file photo)

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health is urging residents to heed a travel advisory from Ontario’s top health official.

Doctor Sudit Ranade said his provincial counterpart, Doctor David Williams is asking that residents avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Doctor Theresa Tam also said Friday that Canadians should cancel or postpone any travel outside the country.

Doctor Ranade said that includes going across into the United States.

“We’re recommending that people who do come back from any travel abroad, including the United States, if you’re an adult you need to self monitor for symptoms for 14 days and if you’re a child, you are not allowed to go to school or daycare for those 14 days, regardless of what your symptoms are,” said Ranade.

It’s also recommended any mass gathering over 250 people be cancelled.

“We know that at March Break there are a lot of people travelling and when the kids go back to school, that’s a very fertile ground for infections. If they picked up COVID-19 while travelling it could spread through the community very quickly. So that’s the reason for the school closures. The mass gathering reason is very similar, we want everybody to start practicing social distancing, which means keeping yourself about a meter away from most other people.”

Dr. Ranade understands how these measures can be frustrating.

“We’re hoping that on the flip side of it, we get a lot less illness and diseases from it. So, we’re hoping that it’s going to be worth it, but we recognize that it’s tremendously inconvenient, frustrating, and some people are going to really need a bunch of additional supports to make it through that time as well.”

Licensed child care centers are asked to actively screen children, parents, staff and visitors for any symptoms and travel history that may be related to COVID-19. Lambton Public Health said daycares, at this time, are allowed to remain open but until specific direction is given, daycares that have 10 per cent absenteeism or greater, should automatically close.

College and universities have been asked to immediately look at virtual options to provide services.

As of Friday, Lambton Public Health said the COVID-19 outbreak level of risk for local residents remained low.

The agency said it’s experiencing significant call volume on its phone lines and was encouraging residents to access its website for information about call priorities and options to learn more about COVID-19.

Lambton Public Health said as of Friday afternoon there were NO confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton.

Health Protection Supervisor Lori Lucas said they’re trying to be as transparent as possible.

“If we did [have a local case], especially for the first positive case, our intent is to send out a media release informing the public so that they understand that we have that case. However, moving forward from there, if and when there is additional cases, we likely would just start updating that on our website under the current situation,” said Lucas. “Information is coming in fast and furiously, there’s lots of testing going on, but if you recall what happened throughout the province with the other cases at the beginning stages of this, there was lots of transparency, so we intend on carrying that out as well.”