MOH believes increased social interaction driving virus transmission

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade (Community news conference May 2020)

Lambton’s medical officer of health believes increased social interaction is driving transmission of the coronavirus.

Sarnia-Lambton’s numbers are trending higher with the total now at 299.

Lambton Public Health reported another four cases in the last 24 hours for a total of 13 over the past two weeks. Six of the 13 are from rural communities and seven from urban.

Dr. Sudit Ranade said there are now 12 active cases with the last seven covering a wider age range.

“One is in the age group of 0 to 19, one is in the age group of 40 to 49, two are in the age group of 50 to 59, two in 60 to 69 and one in 70 to 79,” said Ranade. “None of them have been linked back to one specific exposure, but at least a few of them are close contacts of known cases and the remainder, the ones from the last 24 hours, we continue to investigate.”

With Sarnia-Lambton having just entered Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan, Dr. Ranade continues to stress the importance of avoiding large gatherings, hand washing and wearing a mask where physical distancing is difficult.

The City of Sarnia is enacting the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor public spaces effective this Friday.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has been calling for the release of more information on local COVID cases by public health authorities.

He told Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) Tuesday morning that more disclosure, without violating privacy, would be beneficial to the public.

“I posted an update on the four new cases but I had no other detail,” said Bradley. “As we move forward I think that there should be, and again I’ve raised this twice with public health in the last ten days, please just give us a bit more detail. I think the age factor, we’ve had difficulty over this whole time of getting disclosure on which communities.”

Dr. Ranade said knowing where the virus has been, doesn’t tell you where it is now.

“Just because you know there was a case in a neighbourhood does not really inherently make that neighbourhood safer or less safe then other neighbourhoods where we have not identified cases. What you don’t want is for people to falsely believe that because they’re in an area where there hasn’t been a case identified that they’re somehow safer. That’s a distinction that we don’t believe has any validity to it,” he said.

Dr. Ranade also said that identifying a case in a very small community can easily lead to the infected individual being identified and the person’s privacy being violated.

The death toll in Sarnia-Lambton remains unchanged in over a month at 25.

In the last week, the health unit has received the results from 1,083 COVID-19 tests, for a total of 16,599 since the pandemic started. Less than two per cent have been positive for the virus.

In its daily update Tuesday, Bluewater Health reported that there are no patients currently in hospital with the virus. There are 15 patients suspected of having the virus with test results pending.

-With files from Colin Gowdy and Dave Dentinger