First COVID-19 case found in county

MOUNT FOREST – There are now five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region, including the first case within Wellington County.

On March 22, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) announced that a 66-year-old man tested positive for the virus and is recovering at Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest “under all appropriate precautions.”

Officials say the man did not have a travel history or contact with a known case.

“This is evidence that the COVID-19 virus is circulating in our community and you can get it from another person,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

“It is very important for individuals to maintain social distancing. That means staying two arm lengths or six feet from anyone except immediate family.”

On March 24, three COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Guelph.

Two health care workers at Guelph General Hospital tested positive for the virus, and are in self-isolation. A man in his 80s living at St. Joseph’s Health Centre also tested positive. He is in stable condition in hospital.

On March 16, public health announced a man in his 40s tested positive at Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville after returning from Atlanta, Georgia. He is in self-isolation.

The five cases in the region are among over 570 active ones in the province as of press time, including 85 new cases on March 24 alone.

To date there have been seven confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in Ontario and eight resolved cases.

County case

Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox said his township continues to work closely with WDGPH to ensure the safety of local residents.

“It makes the situation very real when it hits close to home like this,” Lennox said in a March 24 interview.

The mayor declined to comment on specifics about the local COVID-19 case, including reports the man is employed by the municipality.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate … (due to) privacy issues,” Lennox told the Advertiser.

He noted the investigation is a public health matter and he’s “quite confident” the township has taken all the proper precautions, including increased cleaning and sanitization, having people work from home and closing its facilities to the public.

Lennox stressed that, much like other local municipalities Wellington North is doing everything it can to continue offering residents basic services such as fire fighting, water/wastewater, and road maintenance.

“We’ve been in touch with public health … and we’re following their advice,” he said.

WDGPH advice

Public health officials say they follow up with the contacts of known or presumed cases to ensure those who need to self-isolate are doing so and are able to look after themselves.

“As this situation develops, [WDGPH] is again asking that everyone limit trips outside the home to only what is necessary such as groceries or medical care,” stated a March 22 health unit press release.

“Everyone should be aware that the coronavirus, COVID-19, is in our community.

“Wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing; if you have symptoms stay home and call your doctor for a telephone appointment. Together we can protect each other.”

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are to:

– stay home except for essential trips for food/medicine;

– wash your hands often with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

– cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve;

– clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily (use a disinfectant and follow manufacturer’s instructions); and

– call ahead if visiting your health care provider for infectious symptoms so they can plan to protect others.

For the latest health information regarding COVID-19, visit the public health website.