Coronavirus: New positive COVID-19 case in Hamilton may have been from ‘community transmission’ not travel, says public health

Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health has confirmed five new positive tests for COVID-19 in the city as of Tuesday morning.

Hamilton now has a total of 15 positive new coronavirus cases. Six are people over the age of 60 with five connected to cruise ship travel. Four cases have a family connection.

“We do have evidence with one that came in overnight of community transmission now here in Hamilton,” Dr Elizabeth Richardson told Global News, “So what that means is we’re not able to connect with the investigations that we’ve done so far.”

Richardson says public health have not been able to see that this person is connected back to travel. So far, most of Hamilton’s cases are associated with travel.

“This is that point at which, you know, we do become concerned that there are some more cases here than we’re actually seeing and that there may be true transmission going on from person to person.”

It’s the second day in a row the city has seen its caseload increase by five.

On Monday, Mayor Fred Eisenberger revealed that those cases were all related to travel and that the infected are in self-isolation.

No new cases have been reported in Niagara or Halton region as of Tuesday morning. Halton currently has four positive cases, while Niagara has three.

Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) says there are no known cases of the new coronavirus in Brantford, Ont.

On Tuesday morning, the province reported eight more confirmed positive tests in Ontario for COVID-19, putting the total of positive cases at 180, with 1,567 cases under investigation.

The Ministry of Health also confirmed a 77-year-old man who died tested positive for the virus after coming in close contact with another positive case.

In light of the numbers, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario due to outbreak.

The move is aimed at limiting the number of public gatherings to no more than 50 people.

Recreational programs, public libraries, private schools, child care centres, bars and restaurants, theatres, and concert venues are now expected to close.

However, Ford said this is not a provincial shutdown.

“The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital for day-to-day life, will not be affected by this order,” he said. “Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and families.”

Ford said grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, public transit, important public services, construction sites and office buildings will all continue to operate.

Richardson applauds the move saying it’s an important part of the message of social distancing.

“What we’re trying to do is prevent what we call the chain of transmission, and it’s about protecting each of us ourselves, Richardson said.

“But it’s also about protecting our families, our neighbours, and protecting those in our community that are vulnerable.”

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton begin COVID-19 screening protocols on Tuesday and is recommending staff, patients and visitors arrive at its health-care facilities at least 30 minutes before any scheduled appointments.

Upon arrival, patients and visitors can expect to be asked general questions about their current health, recent travel history and contact with those who have recently travelled overseas.

On Monday a pair of COVID-19 assessment centres were opened at the Hamilton Health Sciences urgent care clinic at 690 Main St. W. and at the east-end clinic at 2757 King St. E. that is operated by St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

The assessment centres are by appointment only for those who have a referral from their doctor or Hamilton Public Health Services, based on symptoms (cough or fever), travel history and exposure to known cases.

Meanwhile, Niagara Health opened its first COVID-19 assessment centre on Tuesday, according to a release. It’s located behind the Greater Niagara General site in Niagara Falls.

The facility will screen, assess and test people for COVID-19 by referral only. A second centre is expected to open in St. Catharines, next week.

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