Seeing Red: MOH says it’s possible province will increase restrictions in Lambton

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Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health says it is possible the province will increase the pandemic restrictions in the region today.

The province releases the information about regional pandemic restrictions on Friday.

Right now, Lambton is listed as Orange-Restrict in the province’s Reopening Framework, but Dr. Sudit Ranade says the number of cases in Lambton increased. Since Feb. 12, when the province lifted the lockdown in the region, there have been 71 new cases of COVID-19. The number of cases per 100,000 population has risen to 60 and 2.3 per cent of the tests completed have been COVID-19 positive.

“It looks like we hit the threshold for moving into the red or control zone,” Ranade told reporters Wednesday.

There are major changes in the more restrictive red zone including the number of people able to gather drops from 10 to five. Restaurants and bars would only be able to have 10 people inside at one time. Retail stores would also have to limit capacity to 50 per cent of the stores. Grocery stores would have 75 per cent capacity. Movie theaters and performing arts centers would also have to close.

He says the province seems to look mostly at the number of cases to make the decision adding most of Lambton’s cases can be linked to outbreaks, which may make a difference.

The largest of the six current outbreaks is driving the caseload higher. Forty inmates and four staff at Sarnia Jail have tested positive for the virus in the last 11 days.

And there are other factors playing into the decision to increase restrictions. “Public health capacity is one of the things that’s measured, that seems to be okay,” says Ranade. “ICU capacity and health system capacity as measured, that seems to be okay. It’s really just about the number of new cases.”

Public health officials have talked to provincial officials making the recommendations to relay that most of the new cases are within monitored outbreaks but Ranade isn’t sure if that will make a difference in the final decision.

“And I think the province is really concerned about variance for one example, and also just the idea that they need to be intervening early to stem the tide of disease,” says Ranade.

Public Health reported 12 more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Lambton Thursday. None of those cases were in the known outbreaks according to the data.

Ontario reported 1,038 new COVID-19 cases today. Forty-four people died including two in long term care.