Lambton MOH links some of recent COVID-19 cases to Low German speaking community

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Alex Kurial / Local Journalism Initiative

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade says public health has been fairly successful finding the contacts of 15 people with COVID-19.

Friday, the public health unit announced 15 people tested positive for the virus. Officials said they lived in rural areas with contacts to urban centres, including members of the Low German speaking community.

As of Tuesday afternoon, two more people tested positive. There are 24 active cases in Lambton with no one in hospital – 319 people in total have tested positive for COVID-19 – 270 have recovered and 25 have died.

Last week Ranade said that the discovery of 15 new cases could be traced to specific family outbreaks.

“We knew that a sudden uptick in cases would have people a little concerned about where those all have come from. We found in our investigation that most of those cases are linked within families, and so we’re still talking about exposure to close contacts and household contacts that is driving those infections,” says Ranade.

“We were able to fairly successfully isolate not just the cases, but also get in touch with contacts and isolate them as well,” he says. 

Ranade says the families live in both urban and rural communities. 

Neighboring Chatham-Kent has seen several COVID spikes recently. On Tuesday they announced 40 more people tested positive over the long weekend. CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby says the outbreak has been traced to the Low German speaking communities of Chatham-Kent.

Ranade say this some of Lambton’s new cases are also in the Low German Speaking community – but not the majority. 

“I believe a small subset of our cases are associated with that community – not many,” Ranade says of Lambton’s Low German communities.

“Certainly I think it’s an ongoing discussion to work with multiple different types of communities – including that one [Low German] – across southwestern Ontario to see if we can have a more coordinated approach to people whose movements might not really be connected to the jurisdiction that we have.” 

Ranade gave a pair of reasons for the region’s rise in numbers. “Pretty much every place that opens up gets more cases – that’s around the world and that’s in Ontario. The people that started stage two earlier saw cases earlier than us because they entered a phase where more people were mixing and mingling,” says Ranade. 

“The second thing to remember is that social interactions are the ones that are driving this. So people really need to remember that it’s important to keep your social circles as small as possible,” Ranade says.

“As we move through different phases of opening and more and more people can do more and more things it’s really tempting to just want to go back to all of the things that we used to do. And really it’s the social behavior that drives this particular disease forward.”

Ranade says even when numbers start dropping again this is not a sign to ease precautions.

“I’m really trying to get people to think that the risk is there. As long as the virus is circulating around the world the risk is there, and you have to conduct yourself accordingly,” he says.

“Even if we’ve had a week or so when there weren’t that many cases, or there was a decline in cases, really the best things to protect yourself are the ones that we already know, which is staying away from other people as much as you can and limiting your social interactions,” says Ranade. “All this stuff that we were thinking of at the beginning, but it just becomes harder and harder to do the longer we go through this.”