Guelph reports first COVID-19 death, confirmed cases in Waterloo region rise to 129

Guelph has reported its first death from COVID-19. Health officials also reported confirmed cases have risen to 129 in Waterloo region.

What we need to know about COVID-19 in Waterloo region on April 2

A man in Guelph has died due to COVID-19.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported Thursday a man in his 80s had died. The health unit said it would not provide more details about the person.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, called the person's death a "tragic reminder of how dangerous COVID-19 is."

Mercer added that it's also a reminder "how much we all need to take measures such as social distancing and staying home while finding other ways to support each other and our communities."

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported Thursday that there were 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guelph.

There are now 48 confirmed cases in the areas covered by the health unit, up from 45 on Wednesday. 

There are also 16 cases in Dufferin County and seven in Wellington County.

Eight cases have been marked as resolved.

129 cases in Waterloo region

There are now 129 cases confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region. That's a rise from 117 reported on Wednesday.

Below is a graph of cases up to April 1, as reported by the region.

There have been two deaths in Waterloo region (not including Guelph): A man in his 40s and a man in his 50s. Both were patients at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener.

The region also changed how often it updates cases, moving back to a daily update online.

Public health supplied the following numbers on Thursday for Waterloo region:

  • 2,050 people have been tested.
  • 1,430 tests have come back negative.
  • 491 tests results are pending.
  • 29 cases are marked as resolved.
  • 20 people are in hospital.
  • 47 of the cases are believed to be from community transmission, followed by 37 cases where a person contracted the virus through close contact with someone else who had COVID-19.

3 inmates test positive

Three women at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener have tested positive for COVID-19. 

As well, a breakdown provided by Correctional Services Canada says three other people were tested and were found not to have the virus while two others are awaiting test results.

"We are closely and carefully following direction from public health officials, while following strict protocols to avoid further spread in the institution," a statement sent to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo said.

"We have dedicated health care in our institutions with nurses and doctors on hand to monitor and assess any inmates that develop symptoms."

Cases at long-term care homes

The region says there are five long-term care homes with COVID cases now, up from two reported on Wednesday.

If there is even one case at a long-term care home, regional public health deems it an outbreak.

They are at:

  • ​​​Highview Residences in Kitchener where there are two residents who have tested positive.
  • Sunnyside Home in Kitchener where one staff member has tested positive.
  • Forest Heights Revera in Kitchener where one resident has tested positive.
  • St. Luke's Place in Cambridge where one staff member has tested positive.
  • The Village at University Gates in Waterloo where one staff member has tested positive.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has also listed six COVID-19 outbreaks, with four of those in Guelph.

The locations with COVID-19 outbreaks are: Dufferin Oaks in Shelburne, Headwaters Health Care in Orangeville, Guelph General Hospital, Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, Norfolk Manor in Guelph and St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph.

In an update on its website, Homewood Health Centre officials said they have three positive cases.

"We have mandatory, active screening stations at all our entrances for staff, patients, volunteers and vendors to ensure everyone entering our facility is in good health and is not registering a fever," the release said.

Who gets tested?

Region of Waterloo Public Health is not testing everyone with symptoms. It has said that it is reserving testing for priority cases, including healthcare workers, hospital patients and people in long-term care facilities.

People experiencing mild symptoms are being asked to stay home and self-isolate.

People who do not have symptoms may go out for essentials, but are asked to keep a physical distance of at least two metres between themselves and other people who are not members of their household.

New associate medical officers of health

During a regional council meeting on Wednesday evening, councillors voted in favour of adding two new associate medical officers of health to help acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.

The appointments of Dr. Ryan Van Meer and Dr. Julie Emili still needs provincial approval. Once approved, the two doctors will start giving media briefings on a rotating basis, along with Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.

Emergency child care centres open

The region will open two emergency child care centres on Thursday for people who work in critical positions.

The province has a list of what those roles are, and they include police officers, firefighters, paramedics, correctional officers, a coroner, and some government employees.

The region's chief administrative officer Mike Murray says a full list is available on the region's website on the COVID-19 Community Supports page.

"There is a link to an online application process that's relatively straightforward," Murray said.

Mask or no mask?

If you've gone to the store for groceries or to pick up medications, you may have noticed people wearing masks.

But healthy people in the general public don't need to wear masks, says Wang.

"For people that are having symptoms or have been told by their healthcare provider to wear a mask, yes, masks are or can be effective in those situations. For people who do not have symptoms, we're not recommending these people go around wearing masks," Wang said during a media briefing Wednesday.

That advice comes from provincial and federal health officials who are continually assessing new research and evidence.

There's also another important reason not to use them: Limited supply. Wang says with more people like healthcare workers needing the masks, if people who don't need them are using them too, it will deplete the supply.

"We have to make sure that our use of personal protective equipment is as judicious as possible and reserved for those patients and healthcare workers that need it the most," Wang said.

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