Just one Lambton County person was diagnosed with COVID-19 Wednesday.
Since the outbreak began in the region, there have been at least two people each day test positive for the novel coronavirus – 87 people in total since March 25. Eight people have died. Five people have recovered.
In the last five days, 23 people tested positive, according to Lambton Public Health. That compares with 43 the five days before that as it became clear the worst of the outbreak was at Landmark Village Retirement home. Four residents there died; 16 other residents and staff also tested positive for COVID-19.
“The period we are in, we take a collective deep breath…we take the next week, next week-and-a-half to pause and hold and see what happens in the healthcare system,” says Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade.
Ranade some of the earliest cases in Lambton were linked to travel before and after March break. Now, he says, public health will be watching to see if the efforts to stay at home and keep two metres away from other people are working.
“Now is the time to wait and see if they will have a meaningful effect over the next few weeks.”
But Ranade says it is early to talk about what all this means. And, there are still test results outstanding.
Bluewater Health says there are still 26 people in hospital who have confirmed positive and another nine people who are presumed to have COVID-19. And of the 327 tests done at the local assessment centre, officials are still waiting for the results for 67 people.
The lack of testing – was on Premier Doug Ford’s mind Wednesday. He told the head of Public Health Ontario it was time to ramp up testing. The province’s public health units had testing only the people with the most obvious cases – in Lambton for example, the local assessment centre and the hospital have tested 505 cases.
In Petrolia, Joe Agocs, whose wife died of COVID-19 Saturday, believes he also had the virus, but was never tested. Ranade wouldn’t comment directly on Agocs’ case but says when someone who had direct contact with a person who had already tested positive shows symptoms, public health “operates on the presumption they have it.” He adds without a treatment or vaccine, public health would instruct people to do the same thing to people with or without a test – go home and treat the symptoms.
“We are not sure we have enough tests in any given time and we want to use them appropriately,” Ranade says.
Premier Ford acknowledged there were problems with getting supplies for testing early on, but says the province now has enough testing kits and capacity to analyze the swabs that all healthcare professionals in hospitals and long-term care homes should be tested. He also suggested people being admitted to long-term care should be tested before entering – something which has not been happening because of a shortage of tests.
Ford says the province has the capacity to test 13,000 people a day in the coming weeks noting in places like South Korea, aggressive testing helped pinpoint the virus and allowed public health to introduce measures to stop it quicker.
Ranade says in an “ideal situation” there would be more testing so public health officials could understand what was going on – particularly in areas like retirement homes and long-term care.
But he says, whether everyone gets tested or not, the message is still the same, if you feel sick, go home, isolate yourself and treat your symptoms and, if your symptoms get worse, call your family doctor for further advice.