A public health unit in southwestern Ontario said Sunday it would soon lower collection limits and encourage work-from-home measures as the region faces a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Dr Shanker Nesathurai, a health medical officer for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, issued a letter of instructions Sunday detailing the new measures.
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“Given the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 in the Windsor-Essex region … I am issuing these instructions to control the spread of COVID-19,” Nesathurai wrote.
The new measures, which go beyond provincial regulations, will take effect on Friday at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until further notice, Nesathurai said.
They impose a maximum of 10 people allowed to participate in a social gathering indoors, with exceptions for weddings and funerals, and a maximum of 25 people if the gathering is held outdoors.
Meetings associated with a wedding, funeral, or religious service or ceremony must ensure assigned seating for all attendees and that everyone wears a mask or face covering, except when in their assigned seat and consuming food or beverages. Capacity is limited so physical distancing can be maintained.
Individuals should also keep a list of the names and numbers of all those attending a social gathering and make them readily available when requested by the public health unit.
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Among other measures, companies and organizations should review workplace safety plans with their employees at least once a month and make any necessary adjustments. They should also allow remote work for employees, when possible, and limit employee gathering.
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Restaurants and bars, along with meeting and event spaces, should limit their interior capacity to 50 percent to allow for physical distancing and place visible signs indicating the number of people allowed based on this limit.
Nesathurai noted that failure to comply with provincial requirements and those identified in the letter of instruction is a crime under the Ontario Reopening Act, for which a person, business or organization can be held liable.
The new measures come in the wake of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, along with three local hospitals and local paramedics, warning of acute care and hospital capacity issues.
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In a joint statement released Friday, the groups said there has been a recent increase in both COVID-19 patients and other respiratory illnesses.
They said that patients should expect waiting times and treatment for anything other than emergencies to be much longer than usual, and that those without emergencies should seek care elsewhere, such as family doctors and clinics. , to help ease the pressure on hospitals.
They also said they are seeing a dramatic increase in young children with severe respiratory problems who need an immediate higher level of care, noting that 11 children with respiratory syncytial virus had to be transferred from Windsor Regional Hospital to hospitals in London, Ontario. . , or Detroit.
“We must work to preserve the capacity of our health system for patients. Our local partners will continue to collaborate to ensure that our regional system is capable of handling an influx of patients that will challenge our ability to ensure timely access to care, ”the groups said in the statement.
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