13 Mar
2020

Community health update #4: COVID-19

The County of Prince Edward is urging the local community to take precautions to limit the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“While Dr. Piotr Oglaza [Medical Officer of Health for Hastings and Prince Edward] continues to emphasize that our risk remains low, we all have to do our part to reduce opportunities for the spread of the virus,” says Mayor Steve Ferguson. “If you are sick or have visited an area under a travel health notice, you should limit your contact with others.”

The municipality is taking into consideration that many people in Prince Edward County depend on community services as well as tourism-related employment. While the situation is fast moving, the municipality has taken the following proactive steps:

• The municipality has cancelled all on-ice related activities at the Wellington and District Community Centre and the Prince Edward Community Centre as of 5 pm on Friday, March 13 following Hockey Canada’s decision to cancel the season. Refunds will be provided to impacted ice users. The municipality will begin removing the ice in both facilities because it is cost prohibitive to maintain the ice without hockey bookings.

• The municipality has cancelled all March Break activities at its recreation facilities, museums, and libraries following the Government of Ontario’s decision to close all public schools from March 14 through April 5. Refunds will be provided to parents impacted.

• The municipality will not accept any bookings for community centres or town halls in the foreseeable future. The municipality will honour existing bookings; however, check with the organizers to confirm the status of individual events as many have been cancelled already. The municipality has implemented enhanced cleaning measures in its buildings and recreation facilities to prevent community spread of the virus.

• H.J. McFarland Memorial Home, the municipality’s long-term care facility, is actively screening all staff, visitors, and volunteers given that the residents are a vulnerable population more susceptible to severe illness.

• Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is recommending the cancellation of events with more than 250 people in attendance. Those planning tourism-related events or community activities should refer to Public Health Canada’s COVID-19 guide on risk-informed decision making for mass gatherings.

At this point, the County has not closed any municipal buildings. Council/Committee meetings will continue as planned. Residents are encouraged to participate via live stream. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms, do not enter a municipal facility and contact Customer Service for assistance (613.476.2148 or 613.962.9108 or email info@pecounty.on.ca).

The municipality is aware that Maple in the County organizers are meeting on Saturday, March 14 and a decision regarding the status of the event is expected at that time.

The municipality continues to monitor closely the spread of COVID-19 and the potential impacts on the community. The County is receiving updates from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC). The municipality’s Emergency Control Group is meeting daily at minimum to review the status of COVID-19 and update any measures and strategies as required.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to many other respiratory illnesses, which include fever, cough, and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. HPEPH reminds the community of key ways to prevent the spread of all respiratory infections:

• Wash your hands frequently
• Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm, not into your hand(s)
• Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands
• Clean objects and surfaces that many people touch, such as: doorknobs, phones, light switches, ATM PIN pads, touchscreens, and television remotes
• Eat healthy foods and stay physically active to keep your immune system strong
• Get plenty of rest or sleep
• Get your influenza vaccine
• Stay home when you are sick, and avoid contact with other people until your symptoms are gone
• If you suspect you are sick, avoid visiting people in long-term care, or individuals with health concerns

If you are returning from areas under a travel health advisory for COVID-19:

• Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after leaving the affected area
• Contact Hastings Prince Edward Public Health at 613.966.5500 or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 if you experience symptoms of COVID-19

For general information about COVID-19, please visit the HPEPH website. Additional information is available on the Ministry of Health website.

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