GUELPH – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region has risen to over 100, including the first death attributed to the virus.
On April 2, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) announced “an individual in their 80s” died in Guelph.
“Out of respect for the family of deceased, no further information will be provided on the individual at this time,” stated a WDGPH press release.
In an interview later that day, Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of WDGPH, said it’s not unexpected for elderly patients to die from the virus, “but at the same time, it’s heartbreaking.
“That’s why we emphasize that older adults should stay home. If you have adult children or younger friends, have them deliver your groceries. Stay home.”
It’s also why long-term care and retirement homes have strict visitor restrictions in place.
“For older adults in institutions, the best protection is to not visit them. There are ways to connect, just not physically,” Mercer said.
“And we try to get seniors out of hospital as soon as we can. Hospitals are not safe places to be right now.”
Area coronavirus cases more than doubled over the last week.
As of press time on April 7, there are 113 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the health unit’s jurisdiction, including 17 in Wellington County, 35 in Dufferin County, and 55 in Guelph. Seven patients are in hospital, five in an ICU, and dozens are self-isolating at home. There are now 15 resolved cases in the region.
Many local residents have asked for more details about the location of positive cases in Wellington County, but health unit officials will not provide that information.
“We do not give out specific locations as in some small communities or rural areas, it may make it easier to identify the case,” WDGPH spokesperson Chuck Ferguson said in an April 7 email.
He added, “Location doesn’t increase risk. People should assume COVID-19 is in their community and take the appropriate cautions of staying home, social distancing if out for essential reasons (which can include grocery shopping, walking the dog or getting exercise) and good hand hygiene.”
Institutional outbreaks are now the most common method of COVID-19 contraction, with 34 confirmed cases, followed by community (9), travel (7) and known contact with another case (5). The acquisition source is not yet determined for dozens of cases.
As of April 7, there were 4,726 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 153 deaths and 614 patients hospitalized. In Canada there are 17,063 cases and 345 deaths.
While there have been outbreaks in Guelph and Orangeville, health officials said on April 7 there were no COVID-19 patients being treated at hospitals in Fergus, Mount Forest and Palmerston.
“But we anticipate all of our hospitals will have patients soon,” said Mercer on April 2. “We haven’t hit the peak yet.”
That is expected to happen within the next two weeks, she said.
“And we expect to see significant numbers for the next four to six weeks,” as people become ill and then, hopefully, get better, she told the Advertiser.
On April 6 the County of Wellington reported a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Aboyne.
As of April 3, over 40 other health care workers had tested positive. The list includes 24 at Guelph General Hospital, two at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Guelph, 13 at Headwaters hospital in Orangeville and two at Homewood in Guelph.