COVID-19 cases jump in Haldimand Norfolk: Outbreak seen at Anson Place in Hagersville; WHGH has first death from virus

Featured image for COVID-19 cases jump in Haldimand Norfolk: Outbreak seen at Anson Place in Hagersville; WHGH has first death from virus

By Kaitlyn Clark

The Haldimand Press

HALDIMAND—As more tests return results, the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) announced March 31, 2020 that 27 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 in its catchment area. This includes at least seven cases at Anson Place in Hagersville, one of whom passed away at West Haldimand General Hospital on March 26. A second death was announced March 31 in the region, but no further details were available as of press time.

“(HNHU) has initiated a public health management plan. This includes placing all the residents of the affected institution in isolation, as well as initiating a case management program. Close contacts will be managed by the Health Unit,” said a release from HNHU.

A second release added that HNHU is working with Anson Place specifically: “The plan has been developed to reduce the risk of transmission among residents and staff.”

Advertisement

“I’m saddened to learn of this loss of life due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Medical Officer of Health. “This underscores the importance of continued vigilance in the face of this virus, and the necessity of assertive actions such as self-isolation and social distancing.”

West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH) confirmed in a March 28 press release that the first patient who died had been admitted to the hospital before any confirmed cases existed in Haldimand. They also noted that a second in-patient had tested positive. Two more patients were awaiting test results at WHGH as of March 30, along with one patient at Norfolk General Hospital, which did not have any confirmed cases at that time.

“All appropriate precautions are being taken. WHGH is working with Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit to investigate, complete lab tests and complete case and contact management,” said the release.

“The safety of our health care, hospital, and nursing home community is paramount. For consistency, we are following guidelines provided by Public Health and Infection and Prevention Control Canada (IPAC). Both hospitals have rolled out strategies to limit visitors and the potential spread of infection,” said Kelly Isfan, President & CEO, West Haldimand General Hospital and Norfolk General Hospital. “We really encourage everyone to follow the public health recommendations designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

CALEDONIA—Food Basics is among many stores that have installed barriers to separate cashiers from customers, along with markers on the floor to remind people of social distancing.
—Haldimand Press photos by Jillian Zynomirski.

HNHU announced its first confirmed case within the region on March 26, who was a resident of Norfolk experiencing mild symptoms and continuing to self isolate at home. Previously, Haldimand County had also announced that one of its emergency services employees had tested positive, but for tracking purposes this case is considered a confirmed case for the region the employee was tested in. On March 27 HNHU announced its first death with five confirmed cases. Two days later, confirmed cases were up to 23. As of press time, there were 27 cases and two deaths. Additionally, 161 people had tested negative at that time.

“The sudden jump in confirmed cases is the result of a couple of things. One, testing is behind by about 10 to 14 days. As the Province works to clear this backlog, we’re getting more results,” said Matt Terry, Director of Corporate Communications for Norfolk County, which is in charge of the HNHU. “The other factor is that one person can infect many others, and so the spread becomes exponential, resulting in more and more cases. There are certainly more cases in the community than what we know – this number only refers to laboratory-confirmed positive cases.”

Terry said HNHU expects the number of cases to increase as results continue to come back. Currently, local cases cover an age range “from young adults to seniors” and while some cases have established a direct link to travel as the cause of infection, “they’ve not been able to establish a link to travel” for others.

Nearby, cases have been climbing in surrounding regions as well. Six Nations saw its first two cases confirmed on March 28. The elected band council announced March 27 that barriers would be erected at the reserve’s access points to restrict people moving in and out of the community. These barriers are already in place; residents of Six Nations are allowed to leave for essential services and work, and non-members are allowed entry for work. As of March 31, Brant County (including the city of Brantford) had 14 confirmed cases, Hamilton had 101 confirmed cases, including one death, and Niagara Region had 47 confirmed cases, including seven resolved cases.

“It is absolutely imperative that people stay at home as much as possible and avoid making non-essential trips into the community. When you do have to make trips to places like the grocery story, it is important to maintain at least a two-metre distance from other people,” urged Terry. “It is also critically important that people avoid in-person contact with seniors, who are among the most vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19.”

HNHU has launched a hotline to help enforce public health orders. Report violations to 519-428-8019, such as for:

  • Non-essential businesses remaining open
  • Essential business that isn’t complying with restrictions
  • Gatherings of five or more people
  • The use of playgrounds, parks, piers, and beaches.

Premier Doug Ford announced March 31 that all public schools would remain closed until the first week of May. Private schools and daycares are to remain closed until April 13 under the Declaration of Emergency, which only allows closures to be extended 14 days at a time. The Province also launched the second phase of their Learn at Home program with new expectations to re-establish teacher-led learning through digital resources or by phone or mail, which is to prioritize those set to graduate. For more information, visit ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home.

In post-secondary, students will have an interest-free moratorium on provincial student loans for six months. Additionally, Ontario made an agreement with eCampusOntario to make digital learning supports available to all postsecondary institutions so students can complete the academic year.

Note: Information above was accurate as of press time on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Updates

April 1, 2020: Anson Place numbers

The Medical Officer of Health confirmed that of the 27 cases at this time, 11 were residents of Anson Place, including two confirmed to have died from COVID-19 and a third whose death was still being investigated but was potentially related to COVID-19. Additionally, all staff at Anson Place had been tested and 12 were positive; these staff members are already at home under self isolation. Staff who tested negative are continuing to work and are practising a form of self isolation, only travelling between their home and Anson Place, to limit the chance of infection.

April 2, 2020: Haldimand Numbers

Number of lab-confirmed, negative cases: 224

Number of lab-confirmed, positive cases:  34

Number of deaths: 4

Number of recovered: 3

hnhu.org/health-topic/coronavirus-covid-19/

April 3, 2020: Anson Place

The Health Unit can confirm that there have been 16 positive tests among Anson Place residents. Among six recent resident deaths, the Health Unit can confirm three were related to COVID-19.

There have been 17 positive tests among staff, and these employees are not working and are in self-isolation at home. There have been 35 negative tests among staff.

Haldimand Numbers Currently Confirmed for COVID-19 by HNHU

Lab-confirmed, negative cases: 280

Lab-confirmed, positive cases:  43

Recovered: 6

Deaths:  4