185 cases of COVID-19 reported in Waterloo region, 2 assessment clinics open

There are now 185 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region, public health says. As well, the region has opened two assessment clinics for patients who need to see a doctor for coronavirus but do not need to go to the hospital.

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Waterloo region on April 6

A Sobeys grocery store in Kitchener, Ont., uses carts to create physical distance between customers. The store limited entry to one family member per household on Sunday. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

There are now 185 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region, a rise from 172 reported on Sunday.

The region also announced on Monday it has opened two assessment clinics for people who have moderate symptoms of COVID-19, but who may not need to be admitted to hospital. The centres are only for people who have appointments from their family doctor or a walk-in clinic. There are no walk-ins at the assessment clinics.

One assessment clinic is located at the Westmount Walk-in Clinic in Waterloo. That clinic will be for patients from Waterloo, Kitchener, Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot. The assessment second clinic is at Cambridge Memorial Hospital for patients in Cambridge and North Dumfries.

The centres are also just to assess patients and people will not be tested there. Instead, healthcare staff will determine if the person needs to be tested and if so, they will sent to a clinic at one of the region's three hospitals.

Region's case load at 'manageable' level

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health, says the current number of cases in Waterloo region are "at a pace that is manageable" for local hospitals.

The new numbers reported by Region of Waterloo Public Health on Monday showed:

  • There have been 2,491 tests done.
  • 1,897 tests have come back as negative.
  • 409 people are awaiting test results.
  • 38 cases have been marked as resolved.
  • 30 people are in hospital.
  • 55 cases (30 per cent) are health care workers.

Not everyone with symptoms is tested for COVID-19. Region of Waterloo Public Health says it is prioritizing testing for healthcare workers, hospital patients and people in long-term care homes.

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.

There have been three deaths in Waterloo region: a man in his 40s, a man in his 50s and an 88-year-old man who lived in a long-term care facility.

There has also been one death in Guelph, a man in his 80s.

'Still in early phases'

Wang says people in Waterloo region are doing well with staying home unless they need to go out for essential reasons like groceries, prescriptions and medical appointments. They are also doing a good job of maintaining a physical distance from others.

But, she says, people need to continue following those recommendations.

"We are still in the early phases of the pandemic and we still have serious challenges ahead," Wang said. 

"I still think, based on everything we've seen elsewhere … this is not going to end anytime soon," she added. "We need to keep this up at least for a number of weeks."

Regional Chair Karen Redman echoed Wang's comments, saying she's had many people ask how long the region will have to self-isolate and social distance and how bad will it get.

"The answers to these questions is: It's up to you," Redman said, adding if people follow public health's recommendations, it will save lives and keep people safe.

Long-term care home outbreaks

There are also six outbreaks at long-term care homes in Waterloo region. They are:

  • Highview Residences in Kitchener where six residents and one staff member tested positive. One person has died at the home.
  • Sunnyside Home in Kitchener where three staff members have tested positive.
  • Forest Heights Revera in Kitchener where eight residents and one staff member have 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.
  • Chartwell Westmount LTC in Kitchener where one staff member has tested positive.

Public health officials said an outbreak is declared when there's a single case in a long-term care facility.

Wang said they expect to see the number of cases in long-term care homes rise.

"This is not unexpected. We have seen in other parts of the province how easily COVID-19 can spread in these types of settings," she said. "We are specifically looking for cases in these settings, so we will find more."

GO Transit to alter schedules starting Wednesday

Metrolinx says GO Transit ridership is down 90 per cent due to COVID-19, so schedules on all lines will be reduced starting Wednesday.

There will be morning trains to Union Station in Toronto at 4:35 a.m., 5:45 a.m. and 7:15 a.m.

Evening trains from Toronto to Kitchener will run at 3:53 p.m., 5:53 p.m. and 8:03 p.m.

Emergency funding opens

People financially impacted by the pandemic can now apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. It will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months.

Not everyone will be eligible for the benefit. When people apply for the benefit this week, the day they do so will depend on their birth month.

Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger told The Morning Edition on Monday that people can go to the website to learn more.

"When it comes to people who are not currently eligible, there are some programs available. Let's remember that the GST will be increased this month, April 9, we expect payments to go out for the GST increase," she said, adding the federal child benefit is also set to go up.

The emergency benefit is "the first phase" of funding to help people during the pandemic, Chagger said. 

"It's good to see that the benefits will start flowing, will provide some relief. We know this is a very challenging time," she said.

Guelph assessment clinic moves

The COVID-19 assessment clinic in Guelph opened in a new location Monday morning.

It moved from near Guelph General Hospital on Delhi Street to the Victoria Road Recreation Centre. It will continue to run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

The move was made to provide people who need to attend the clinic with better parking and accessibility. 

People are asked not to go to the centre unless they have at least moderate symptoms and are told to call their family doctor first. Mild symptoms can be treated at home by self-isolating, public health officials said.

49 cases in Guelph

There are now 49 cases in Guelph, with 100 cases in total for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

The health unit updated its numbers Monday afternoon.

There are 29 cases in Dufferin County and 15 in Wellington County. Seven cases have not been attributed to any of the three locations yet.

There were nine people in hospital with four in the intensive care unit on Monday, public health said. Eleven cases have been marked as resolved.

There were six long-term care facilities listed as having a COVID-19 outbreak: 

  • Dufferin Oaks in Shelburne.
  • Headwaters Health Care in Orangeville.
  • Guelph General Hospital.
  • Homewood Health Centre in Guelph.
  • Norfolk Manor in Guelph.
  • St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph in two areas: the Rosewood Unit and the Apple Blossom Unit.

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