Kitchener-Waterloo

2 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Waterloo region, playgrounds to close

The region has two more cases of COVID-19 as of Friday morning. One is from community transmission and the other is a person who was on a cruise.

What you need to know about COVID-19 in Waterloo region on March 20

A nurse holds a nose swab after administering it on a patient in a car at a drive-in testing site for coronavirus in Liege, Belgium. Here in Waterloo region, there are currently 14 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

There are two new reported cases of the coronavirus in Waterloo region as of Friday morning, one of which has been hospitalized.

Region of Waterloo Public Health announced the new cases on its website. The 13th case for the region is a man in his 70s who contracted the virus through community spread.

He was tested at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener.

The region's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said it's unclear when this man contracted the virus. The man was in the hospital for other health concerns when he was tested and found to have COVID-19.

The man is currently in isolation in hospital in serious but stable condition.

The 14th case is a woman in her 50s who was recently on a Celebrity Summit cruise and also had close contact with another person with COVID-19. 

The woman is one of five cases locally who were either on board the Celebrity Summit cruise or who had contact with someone on the same cruise. 

The region announced two cases on Thursday that were the first reported involving spread of the coronavirus in the community.

As of Friday morning, Wang said 667 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in Waterloo region. Of those, 385 have been confirmed to be negative and the region is awaiting results for 268 cases. There are currently 282 individuals being monitored by public health.

Wang also gave an update on case 12, a woman in her 20s who was tested at a Toronto assessment centre. Wang said the woman lives in both Toronto and Waterloo region and has a small number of contacts with people in the region.

There are a total of 14 confirmed cases in the region. Cases three and four were hospitalized earlier in their illness but have since released. Just one person remains in hospital. The other 13 cases are in self-isolation at home.

Playgrounds closed

The seven municipalities in Waterloo region are now closing all playgrounds in a bid to keep children apart and as part of social distancing measures. The move also includes skateboard parks.

Signs will be going up at all playgrounds over the course of the weekend.

The region's CAO Mike Murray says the parks won't be taped off because with more than 400 parks throughout the region, it would be too hard to ensure the tape stays up.

Murray notes parks, trails, and open spaces at parks are open and they continue to ask people to keep their distance from each other.

Social distancing will last more than 14 days

The province has closed schools until at least April 6, two weeks after March break.

As well, people who are returning from travel should be in self-isolation for 14 days, but Wang noted people shouldn't be holding that 14 day wait time in their minds as a deadline for social distancing to be over.

The recommendations are "not for 14 days only. They are for as long as we need to have them in place," she said Friday.

"What we know is that those facilities and schools have been closed until that date, but we don't know whether or not that will be extended at this time," she said.

Food banks implement pandemic plan

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region says it's still working to get food to people in need in the community. The food bank developed a pandemic plan more than 10 years ago and it is now in place.

Food bank CEO Wendi Campbell says they will continue to need food and financial donations from the public in the coming weeks as it's expected more people will be impacted by being off work or being laid off.

Plans to help homeless

Murray says the region is currently working on ways to help people who are homeless. There are three areas they're currently focusing on:

  • Creating an isolation shelter for people who don't have a space to self-isolate.
  • Looking for spaces for daytime shelters for people who are street involved or homeless. This would give people a place to rest, get something to eat and use the washroom. Murray said most places they would normally access are currently closed.
  • Working to make sure people who are homeless have access to food because some of the normal ways they get food aren't as available now.

Murray said the region hopes to have solutions to these three issues over the next 24 hours.

Guelph police close station to non-emergencies

Police in Guelph announced Friday that police headquarters at 15 Wyndham Street S. will be closed to non-emergencies.

"In order to best protect our community and our members, please refrain from attending the station in person unless you have an emergency situation that cannot be dealt with over the phone at 519-824-1212," the service said in a release.

Some cases can also be reported through the Guelph Police Service's website.

The collision reporting centre located at 160 Clair Road W. in Guelph is also changing its hours. It will be open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6.p.m. and it won't be open on weekends until further notice.

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