Lambton’s medical officer of health is concerned about the recent increase in people testing positive for COVID-19 in Lambton, but he’s not surprised.
There have been 13 new cases in the last two weeks, Dr. Sudit Ranade says.
“I am concerned, but it’s also what we expect. So I’m surprised it took so long, frankly.”
The cases come as people in Lambton County get more freedom from the restrictions meant to stop COVID-19.
Ranade says that’s not a surprise.
“This is a very tricky virus and I think every single place around the world that has had a lockdown has experienced success from the lockdown and everything almost every single place that has opened up after lockdown has experienced a surge in cases after that. Then the question becomes what do you do?”
Ranade says the key to keeping a lid on the virus in Lambton will be preventing “a few cases from becoming a bigger deal.
“I think one of the ways that you prevent that is to try to reduce the biggest transmission settings, which are places where people are really close together for a long, long period of time.”
Ranade points to media reports of large parties in the Toronto area and says while they get publicity, there are large gatherings happening here, too. And that could be a problem in the future.
“It’s that kind of gathering that is really…higher (risk) than the usual interactions. If somebody in that setting has COVID, they’re in close proximity to people for a lot of time in a crowded space that’s indoors with maybe poor ventilation, and there’s drinking and shouting. So we’ve got a lot of risk factors on board,” says Ranade.
“Those are the kinds of things that we need to really hold ourselves back from. And I’m not, I’m not sure at this point, what are the kinds of interventions that we would have at our disposal to do that, beyond reminding people that really they should not be as social as they want to be.”
Recently, the increasing number of people with COVID-19 in Lambton has touted as one of the reasons for a mandatory mask bylaw in Sarnia. (See page 5) While Ranade says masks can help in areas where you can’t keep six feet apart, staying away from crowded areas would be better.
Another person was diagnosed with COVID-19 after travelling. Ranade says that is also to be expected as people move around the province for summer vacations.
But he’s asking people to be smart about where their going and how much they are interacting with others while they’re away.
“we don’t want to limit that (travel) but if you go, really just bring your stuff with you and don’t interact with the community,” says Ranade noting in May, the province was asking residents to stay away from their cottages to slow the spread.
That message was diluted as summer arrived, with provincial officials encouraging people to discover Ontario this summer.
But Ranade is urging people to be smart. “The purpose of you getting away is you’re getting away, but not to really increase your interaction with a bunch of people.”
Public health says travel is just one way people in Lambton have contracted COVID-19. The agency released some details of the 13 new cases in July.
While the medical officer of health can’t break down exactly where the cases are, he says six were in rural communities, one is likely related to travel, two people were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 outside of Lambton County, two were close contacts in Lambton. Three of the cases were discovered because of testing in long term care, either by home employees or visitors who now must be screened.
Seven of the cases can’t be traced to any cause specifically.
“Knowing where COVID-19 has been does not tell you where it is currently. COVID-19 is in your community so please be mindful of risk at all times,” says Ranade.