Health Unit concerned about COVID-19 in Low German population

Nasal swabs in test tubes. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / ayo88.

Like its counterpart in Chatham-Kent, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases in the Low German speaking community.

Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed would not say how many cases but said it was significant enough for public health officials to reach out to the Low German speaking community in Leamington and Kingsville and offer advice on how to prevent further spread.

Ahmed said health units across Southwestern Ontario are noticing the same spike in cases.

“It’s spread across multiple jurisdictions — in our community as well,” said Ahmed. “We want to make sure we are there to support the community in the best possible way.”

He said officials from Erie Shores Healthcare and the health unit have been working with the Low German speaking community since the start of the pandemic, but the cases began to rise over the past few weeks.

Many of the cases in the Leamington and Kingsville area are related to the agri-food sector. Still, Ahmed said there was not enough evidence to connect the outbreak in the Low German speaking community to area farms.

He did say the spread appears to be connected to the Low German cultural gatherings and other practices.

“We’re not trying to make things difficult for anyone, but instead, we are trying to protect them,” said Ahmed. “We recognize that sometimes it can be seen as being too interested.”

The ages of those infected cross generations, and the illnesses, in some cases, have been severe enough to require hospitalization for some patients.

The health unit reported ten new cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex on Thursday. Of those, six are in the community, three are in the agri-food sector, and one is under investigation.

A total of 724 people are currently self-isolating, and there are 13 people in the hospital.