CORNWALL, Ontario – During an update to media on Thursday, Sept. 17, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) stated that he had not ruled out the possibility of issuing tighter restrictions on social gatherings to battle the spread of COVID-19.
Under Phase Three of Ontario’s reopening plan, the EOHU region allows outdoor gatherings of 100 people, and indoor gatherings of 50 people with proper social distancing and masks. In response to spikes in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto the province reduced the number of residents who can safely gather on Sept. 17 to 10 people at an indoor event and 25 at an outdoor event.
“I was a little disappointed that the regulation did not include our area because we are so close to Ottawa,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “I’ve been working with the Minister and might work to expand it to our area.”
“I am confident that one way or another we will have those restrictions on gatherings,” he added.
Dr. Roumeliotis stated that it did not make sense to not have those restrictions on public gatherings in Ottawa and not in the EOHU that is just minutes away.
He went on to ask that only those with symptoms or are directed to get a COVID-19 test to go to a testing centre, explaining that the Casselman testing centre has been overwhelmed recently with the demand for tests, and that they wanted to prioritize testing children so they can get back to school.
The EOHU region currently has 28 active COVID-19 cases, with 10 in Clarence-Rockland, two in Russell, one in Alfred & Plantagenet, one in The Nation, four in South Dundas, two in South Glengarry, six in North Glengarry and two in Cornwall.
Dr. Roumeliotis attributed a lot of the new cases to individuals who were attending gatherings, some even while sick.
“We have dozens of people who have been infected by one person,” he said.
There have been 223 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the EOHU region, with 183 recovered and 12 deceased. There is currently one 92-year-old individual hospitalized with COVID-19.