The good news is that, according to Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington, it seems to be working.
Moore said Kingston and surrounding counties have so far managed to prevent exponential growth of COVID-19 infections, which has been the biggest fear of public health officials and hospitals. Instead, the rate of local infections has “plateaued” at a manageable net of new patients almost every day.
This is very good news, said Moore, but that doesn’t mean that social distancing can be relaxed. Everyone must continue to do what they have been to make sure the coronavirus stays under control.
“Right now we receive an average of two to three positive cases a day. But the virus would like to see the number of cases triple every three to four days. … We don’t see that. Instead, we see three cases (every day) who were all known contacts (of an infected person). We have not seen it spread freely outside of these circles, “said Moore.
“Our cases are stagnating and staying stable because everyone in our community is doing the right thing: they practice physical distance, they stay with their families, wash their hands, cover their coughs and get tested if they develop symptoms (if eligible).
“We are getting good information and I am confident that we have reached this plateau. But we cannot let our guard down. “
Public health has a model of how it expects the spread of the coronavirus to continue if everyone continues to behave responsibly. The model predicts that the number of cases will reach between 56 and 69 cases this month and will remain at that number until the beginning of May.
“We reach a peak in early May, and from there we hope to see a decent slow as long as we maintain social and physical distance. Everyone in the community has a role to play, ”said Moore.
The danger of loosening one of the social distancing measures that have been put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus is that it could cause a spike in new cases as people start to mix more freely.
Moore said they are currently seeing this happen in mainland China as the government begins to relax its own restrictions in the hopes of restarting the economy. Public health officials in Kingston and the rest of Canada will closely monitor how these efforts are going to try to learn as much as they can during the time when the measures are relaxed here.
It could still be far enough. But even when that happens, Moore warns, some measures will remain in place, so things will not return to what they were before the pandemic for some time.
“We will look at what we can do to put in place the basic structures that will allow us to restart our economy and allow our communities to maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle,” he said. “But it can never come back over the next year and a half to what we did before. We will have to continue to maintain a physical distance, cover the cough and wash our hands, stay at home when we are sick. “
In the meantime, however, the concern is not to allow religious holidays and the warmer weather for the next few weeks to undermine control of COVID-19, which the community has fought so hard for, he said.
Moore asks people to postpone any religious celebration involving anyone outside their own homes.
As for the people who want to head to their cottages, Moore said it was OK as long as they were very close. Travel across the province should be avoided, so if someone has a seasonal home in the area, they can get there remotely. But no one is expected to enter or leave the region, which could spread the virus across Ontario.