KAWARTHA LAKES-The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU)says due to a surge in local cases, reinforcements are on the way to assist the local public health agency with its COVID-19 case and contact management efforts.
As of today (April 9), the health unit is getting support from the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Provincial Work Force (PWF) to do follow up with local COVID-19 cases and contacts. Approximately 40% of eligible cases will be assigned to PWF going forward.
PWF is a centralized case and contact management team that was created within the Ministry of Health to help with pandemic response. Its staff include trained contact tracers and case managers, who are already assisting many other public health units across Ontario, including those in Windsor-Essex, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton, Toronto, Waterloo, Peel and York.
Will local residents notice a difference? Not at all, according to the local Medical Officer of Health.
“Anyone who needs to be contacted in connection with COVID-19 will continue to be followed up by qualified public health professionals, who can offer them the advice and guidance they need to stay safe and prevent further spread,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health with HKPRDHU. “We’re extremely grateful for this extra provincial support. It comes at a critical juncture, when our staff are already extremely busy responding to a surge in local COVID-19 cases, providing COVID-19 vaccinations at mass immunization clinics across our region, and carrying out other pandemic response work.”
According to Dr. Bocking, case and contact management is an important tool used by public health to prevent the spread of certain infectious diseases, including COVID-19. “Investigating where an individual may have acquired the virus, following up with potential contacts, and ensuring these individuals take steps to prevent further spread (like quarantining or isolating) is crucial to protect the community’s wellbeing,” she notes.
This is not the first time HKPRDHU has turned to another provincial body for assistance in its pandemic response. Since the end of 2020, Public Health Ontario has also been assisting with contact tracing efforts in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
There is 22 active cases of coronavirus in Kawartha Lakes at this time with the health unit tracking 54 high risk contacts. Cases have increased in Northumberland with 22 new cases today. The municipality currently has 78 active cases with the health unit tracking 212 high risk contacts.