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Local update on the Covid-19 virus

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Journal Staff

So far, fewer than 10 Sarnia-Lambton residents have been tested for Covid-19, says Lambton’s medical officer of health.

But that number will rise and it’s likely confirmed cases will follow, adds Dr. Sudit Ranade.

“Given the spread of this infection it is likely we will see a few cases before it all winds down. How many cases we will have, and how severe they will be, we don’t know.”

As of Friday, March 13, Ontario had 59 of Canada’s 138 confirmed cases. One person has died.

Lambton Public Health will announce the first confirmed case as soon as it’s known, Dr. Ranade added. Updates are available at

The health unit has been inundated with requests for a Covid-19 test, Dr. Ranade said.

“People want peace of mind, so I understand why someone might want to have a test. But in medicine we try to do tests only when it’s going to change an outcome,” he said.

“For most people with mild symptoms, telling them they have COVID-19 will result in the same advice we give people with other respiratory illness — go home, rest, and stay away from other people.”

The best prevention is to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, disinfect high-touch surfaces, cover your cough and sneezes, and maintain distance from sick people, health officials say.

Should you believe you’re at risk of having the COVID-19 virus, and want to be tested, call your primary care provider first. Do not head directly to the Emergency Department, health officials are advising.

Your primary care provider will help assess if you require testing, and if so, you will be directed to follow a specific process to access the hospital Emergency Department.

Heading to Emergency on your own with very mild symptoms can reduce the hospital’s capacity to deal with more urgent needs.

The hospital and health unit are also working to establish a community-based Assessment Centre.

Until that happens, doctors and nurse practitioners are working with the hospital and public health to determine the need for testing, if appropriate.

Questions and concerns should be directed to your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Dr. Ranade said visits to long-term care and retirement homes should be avoided, if possible.

“Long-term care homes and retirement homes have a population that is particularly vulnerable to severe disease from COVID-19,” he said.

“We are recommending extra vigilance in these settings to make sure people with respiratory or other illnesses do not visit their families and friends until they have no symptoms and are well.”
Fever, coughing, difficulty breathing and pneumonia can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Bluewater Health managers have reviewed pandemic plans and have isolation rooms available for quarantine.

Patient screening at the hospital considers a person’s symptoms and recent travel history, Shannon Landry, the hospital’s chief nursing executive, said last week.

“Have you travelled to China or Iran, or any of those cities that you see in the news? If it’s yes to those questions, and they have symptoms, there’s a whole process that happens right away.”

Currently, patient samples are sent to Toronto for testing. If the sample indicates a presumptive case, it’s sent for confirmation to a government lab in Winnipeg. The process currently takes 24 hours or less.


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