Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health has ordered measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Dr. David Colby has also declared a local emergency as a result.
Municipal officials say on March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. In doing so, they called for communities across the world to take aggressive and urgent action to prevent the spread of the disease.
On March 12, based on advice from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Minister of Education answered that call, issuing an order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following March break. At which point, the situation will be re-assessed and further direction will be given.
Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, is declaring a local emergency for Chatham-Kent, Municipal officials say.
This measure allows for the redeployment of staff to assist where and when necessary.
“I would like to be very clear that declaring a local emergency is in no way meant to induce panic, and residents should not interpret it as such,” Colby stated in a media release.
“Rather, it allows us flexibility to use an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach as we take the necessary preventative measures across our community.”
Social distancing measures, especially school closures-before the virus is spreading in the community – have been shown to be one of the most powerful interventions to slow the spread of disease,” Colby added.
“When taken early, and when coordinated with additional efforts, these precautionary actions will help to prevent the impact that COVID-19 could have on Chatham-Kent residents,” Colby said.
“We all have a role to play, and it is imperative that we work together and do what we must, now, to ensure that we do not put ourselves in a position where increased and, quite frankly, impossible demands are placed on our healthcare system in weeks to come. The risk for the amplification or super-spreading within the community or a healthcare setting would be devastating, especially in a community such as ours where nearly 40% of residents are over the age of 55, and many more have serious, chronic medical conditions.”
Dr. Colby is also issuing the following orders for Chatham-Kent:
– All public and private schools to be closed from March 14 to April 5.
– All licensed childcare facilities to be closed from March 14 to April 5 (at this time, this does not apply to home-based childcare settings).
– The ban of all mass gatherings of 250+ people (included in that maximum is the number of staff in place to support the event).
– Anyone aged 0-17 years who has travelled internationally, including to the United States, will self-isolate for 14 days upon their return, and no individuals returning home from international travel will be able to attend school or childcare for 14 days.
– Adults who travel internationally, including the United States, will be asked to self-monitor upon their return and isolate if they become ill.
A list of community based measures to lessen the spread of the disease is also available, here.
Additional recommendations for social distancing include:
– Limiting the distance between yourselves and another individual by at least one metre
– Limit social interactions by avoiding large gatherings such as celebrations, sporting and entertainment events, religious services and entertainment venues.
– Working remotely when and if possible
– Minimizing direct contact with people such as handshaking
Any residents with questions pertaining to COVID-19 are asked to visit the Public Health Unit website at www.ckpublichealth.com/covid19 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.