MOH Message to Huron Perth Residents Regarding COVID-19

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Hello, my name is Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health for Huron Perth. This past weekend we learned of the first death due to COVID-19 in our community. I and my entire staff extend our sincere condolences to the man’s family, friends, and everyone affected by his loss. It is a terrible reminder of the seriousness of this virus.

We also received confirmation of more cases of COVID-19 in our area. I understand that this news will be very concerning for our residents. However, an increase in the number of cases in Huron Perth was not unexpected.

Over the next few weeks, we can expect to see the number of confirmed cases in Huron and Perth continue to rise, as has been the pattern throughout the province and in other countries around the world. We are entering the steep part of the curve and we are receiving results from infections that were acquired 2 or more weeks earlier.

I know that many of you want to know specific details about each confirmed case we have – who they are, where they work, where they may have been, and what public areas they may have been attended. While I understand the concern and desire for these details, what these results are showing us is that the virus is here.

The identity and the pattern of the individuals are important to our public health investigations in order to follow up with any close contacts and provide direction to those people. Contact tracing, as it is called, is something that our public health professionals do with all our communicable disease investigations and for each case it is conducted swiftly and efficiently.

Please be assured that we will communicate directly with you or with the public about any elevated risk.

Essentially, we should all act as though we could come into contact with COVID-19 anywhere in our community, and that we could pass COVID-19 to someone else.  Now is the time for us to be diligent about washing our hands, staying home and only going out if necessary, and if we do go out, keeping our distance from others.

The strict public health measures currently in place are aimed to “flatten the curve”, as it is being called. What we mean by this is that the rate of infection would spike rapidly if we did not take any preventative measures. Instead, the actions we are all taking now – particularly staying home and physical distancing – will keep the daily number of cases to a more manageable level for our health care system.

We need to continue to be patient because the actions that we undertake right now will generate positive results in two to four weeks.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to practice the difficult public health measures that we know are important to stopping the spread of this virus. And I want to thank-you for the way you are supporting friends, families and neighbours through acts of assistance and kindness and for the ways you are making and keeping connections from a distance and via technology.

These are challenging and rapidly changing times, but even though we may be keeping our physical distance from each other, we are in this together.

And together we can, and will, make a difference.

 Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hello. My name is Dr. Miriam Klassen and I am the Medical Officer of Health for Huron and Perth Counties. The role of I and my team of dedicated public health professionals is to promote and protect the health and prevent disease for our residents. In normal times, you may know our work doing immunization clinics in your children’s school or contacting new parents after the birth of a baby or inspecting restaurants to make sure they are preparing our food safely.

Right now, it is our job to lead the local response in Huron and Perth involving the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has been called COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. Many of Huron Perth Public Health’s daily work has been restricted or paused while we focus our activities on stopping and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

I know how unsettling this time has been for so many of us. It’s difficult to find that the life we have known for so long has changed within a matter of weeks in a way we have never experienced before. Many of you are off of work, for many your children are home from school or daycare, and many of the recreation centres, shops and restaurants in our towns are closed. Most importantly, the comfort of our daily routines may no longer be there.

I understand that many of you are full of questions and worries and wondering how you can keep yourself, your families and your friends healthy. I would like to tell you a bit about what we are doing in Huron and Perth to protect your health, why we need to do it, and how every one of us can contribute.

I want to assure you that we all at Huron Perth Public Health take our responsibility very seriously. We are communicating frequently with the Ministry of Health and other public health units across Ontario, holding regular meetings with our local doctors, hospitals, emergency services, government representatives, long-term care homes and other key partners and stakeholders, and responding to your questions and concerns through our website, social media pages, and through our phone intake Health Line.

We will continue to work hard to limit the spread of this virus in our communities, and I also call on you to take our public health recommendations seriously. We all need to maintain a healthy physical distance from others, self isolate if we’ve returned from travelling, staying home if we’re sick, wash our hands often, and limit group gatherings at this time. These are all measures that may seem like they would not have an effect in the face of a global pandemic, but I can assure you that they matter and they will make a difference.

You can always find the latest public health guidance and information about what is happening regarding COVID-19 in our community through our website, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are also offering extended hours on our Health Line to call and speak with a public health nurse.

The day will come when life will return to normal and at that time we can all be proud of the role we played during this difficult time.

Thank you