HPPH Provides Update on COVID-19 Response

Thanks to the hard work of Huron Perth residents in following public health measures, Huron and Perth counties have avoided a significant surge of COVID-19 cases in the community so far. Cases of COVID-19 in long-term care and group settings, however, remain a concern.

“Our focus now is to maintain what we are seeing in the community and to protect our vulnerable residents in long-term care,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health.

This morning, HPPH learned of a positive COVID-19 case in a resident at Blue Water Rest Home in Zurich. With one positive result, an outbreak is declared. The resident is not hospitalized and is in self-isolation. HPPH outbreak staff are working closely with Blue Water Rest Home to provide support and guidance to help manage and control the outbreak and facilitating the testing of all staff and residents.

“The health and safety of our residents, and the team members who serve them, is our highest priority,” says Angie Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Water Rest Home. “We are working in close partnership with Huron Perth Public Health to ensure every possible step is taken to protect our residents and staff.”


Increased testing at long-term care homes

As part of the provincial government’s action plan to protect residents in long-term care homes announced last week, Huron Perth Public Health is currently facilitating testing for all residents and staff of long-term care homes across both counties. This includes communicating and coordinating with long-term care homes as well as coordinating testing by staff from the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and Emergency Services. HPPH has outbreak teams ready to support a facility if a positive is identified through surveillance, as during any long-term care outbreak.

“We have completed about 1,000 swabs total in our communities in the past eight weeks and will now need to perform 2,000 more in the next ten days,” says Dr. Klassen. “Huron Perth Public Health will be activating and redeploying staff as necessary.”

 

HPPH response

The majority of HPPH staff have already been activated for COVID-19 response, including case and contact management and sharing information with stakeholders and the general public. The HPPH intake phone line, Health Line, has been operating on extended hours seven days a week and received 3,500 phone calls from February 3 to April 16. About 88% of those calls were about COVID-19.

HPPH has more than 60 staff completing case and contact investigations. An investigation includes contacting a confirmed positive case and asking the individual for the names of everyone they have been in contact with over the last 14 days. Public health will then call each of those contacts in order to determine their level of risk and will provide instructions on testing or isolation as needed.

If an individual has not been practicing physical distancing, an investigation can result in instructions being given to dozens of people.

“I am very much aware of how difficult these past few weeks have been,” says Dr. Klassen, “but individuals need to keep in mind that what might seem like an acceptable risk could negatively impact them and many, many others.”

The majority of Huron Perth residents continue to practice physical distancing and staying home except for essential reasons.

“I am proud and grateful for the resiliency and determination of Huron-Perth residents at this time,” says Dr. Klassen. “As the province explores the possibility of lifting restrictions, we all need to keep physically distancing and staying home except for essential reasons. We are making a difference and we will get through this.”

 

Modified public health services

Even though COVID-19 response currently takes up the majority of resources at HPPH, public health’s mandate to protect and promote health continues. Public health services such as immunizations, sexual health services, needle exchange and well water testing, for example, continue in modified forms. For more information residents are encouraged to visit our COVID-19 Response Service Interruptions webpage for a list of programs and services interruptions and modifications: www.hpph.ca/en/about-us/covid-19-response-service-interruptions.aspx

 

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