Misinformation fuelling isolation defiance in Huron-Perth
WINGHAM, ONT. -- A frustrated and concerned Medical Officer of Health in our region says she had no choice, but to try and clamp down on people ignoring public health isolation orders.
“While education and working with people are my first choice to help people do the right thing, our numbers are going in the wrong direction, and I’m very concerned about the potential of overwhelming our local healthcare system,” says Huron-Perth’s Dr. Miriam Klassen.
A few days after revealing that people are becoming increasingly rude and defiant with case and contact tracers, Dr. Klassen implemented new COVID rules, allowing police and municipal by-law officers to lay fines of up to $5000 per day.
Dr.Klassen says the people pushing back most recently aren’t those testing positive for COVID-19, it’s high risk contacts with no symptoms.
“What we’re finding is that, that people particularly in that category, who feel well, don’t see the need to self-isolate,” she says.
The reasons given for not complying says the health unit. Financial concerns, COVID fatigue, and more frequently, people not believing that COVID-19 is really that serious, or even real.
“One thing that I’m hearing increasingly is that this is just like the common cold, that it is not a severe illness. I want to be very clear in saying, that is wrong. The common cold does not cause 17 hospitalizations and 17 deaths in one year in Huron-Perth. Let alone in eight months, with all the public health measures, we have in place,” says Dr. Klassen.
Dr. Klassen has used the Section 22 Order on individuals before, but this now applies to anyone told to self-isolate or quarantine by public health or a health care provider.
There have been recent outbreaks in the Amish and Mennonite communities across Huron-Perth. When asked if it is this group that is pushing back more than others, Dr.Klassen says “it’s not necessarily one particular community not complying.”
Huron-Perth is currently in the Orange-Restrict COVID category. Dr.Klassen says if case counts don’t turn around soon, the region could easily move into the Red-Control category.
“The next level is red. I’m hoping we don’t have to go there, but the number of cases we’re seeing right now indicates what was happening two weeks ago. I truly hope we can turn this around,” she says.
SCHOOL CASES ON THE RISE IN HURON-PERTH
Three classes at a Listowel elementary school have been sent home following four COVID-19 cases connected to the school.
An outbreak has not been declared at St.Mary’s Catholic Elementary School because it’s believed the virus was not acquired or transmitted at the school.
Four cases is the most connected to a Huron-Perth school, so far.
A single case at each of Goderich District Collegiate Institute and Anne Hathaway Pulblic School remain active, with a class at each school dismissed due to the case.
Two cases connected to St. Ambrose Catholic School in Stratford also remain active, although no classes have sent home.
The Avon Maitland District School Board is reporting that one central board employee has tested positive for the virus, as well.
The only school outbreak in Huron-Perth, Northside Christian School in Listowel, will remain closed until Dec. 11. Only one case, a staff member, has been identified so far.