CBC Windsor's March 26 COVID-19 update: 6 confirmed cases, but 50 more possible in hospital

Here's a look at what's happening in our area on Thursday, March 26.

A daily look at what's happening in Windsor-Essex and surrounding regions

CBC Windsor brings you the latest local update on COVID-19 in our area. 28:16

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) confirmed on Thursday evening a sixth case of COVID-19 in the region — a woman in her 60s who recently travelled outside of Canada. 

She developed symptoms on March 18, went to Windsor Regional Hospital's assessment centre on March 23 and was admitted to Windsor Regional hospital on March 24. 

The news came on the same day that public health officials confirmed the region's fifth case of COVID-19.

"This man is in his 30s with no international travel history. The person did travel outside of Windsor-Essex in Ontario," said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed, speaking on Thursday morning. "He's currently self-isolating and recovering with mild symptoms."

Ahmed said the man is a Windsor resident, but was tested and is self-isolating in Toronto. The local health unit was informed of this case so that locals who came into contact with the man could be notified.

On Thursday morning, the health unit said there are 3,409 confirmed cases in Canada, 688 in Ontario, two in Chatham-Kent, five in Sarnia-Lambton, 2,294 in Michigan with 705 in Detroit.

Watch the health unit's March 26 update here: 

On Wednesday, the health unit said a fourth person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in our area. 

Ahmed said this case was related to travel outside of Canada, but that it was only "a matter of time" before we see a "community case."

The fourth case is a man in his 60s who travelled in the U.S., returning to Canada on March 13. He was seen at the local assessment centre after developing coronavirus symptoms, and was tested on March 20. The health unit reached out to "all contacts" of the man and advised those people to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms. 

The health unit confirmed the region's third case of COVID-19 on Monday, informing residents that a man in his late 40s who works in Michigan and lives in Windsor-Essex had been diagnosed. 

A man in his 20s, who is employed at a healthcare facility in Southeastern Michigan and lives in Windsor-Essex County, also tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the health unit said on Saturday.

A man in his 60s who returned to Windsor after travelling on a Caribbean cruise was confirmed by the health unit on Friday.

In addition to the cases already confirmed by the health unit, Windsor Regional Hospital spokesperson Steve Erwin said on Thursday that there are "50 being treated as possible COVID-19 cases pending test results."

Erwin said he wouldn't provide further comment until those test results are confirmed.

Here's what else is happening in our area:

Windsor ER doctor preparing for 'hordes of people' with COVID-19

Dr. Paul Bradford, an emergency room and trauma physician at Windsor Regional Hospital, says health-care workers with his organization are preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 cases in the region will skyrocket. 

Bradford says medical staff have been working upwards of 18 hours everyday in order to make sure that both COVID-19 and regular patients are able to receive the care they need, as well as prepare for the possibility that "hordes of people" might be diagnosed with coronavirus. 

"It's just trying to get ready for what we're going to be facing," he said. "We are seeing some case presentations already, and I think what we want to do is just make sure that we're prepared and take all the information we can from all the different organizations and really get ready to do all the work we currently do."

Meanwhile, medical staff who live in the region but work in Michigan are doing their best to avoid spreading coronavirus on either side of the border. 

Danielle Bastien, a nurse practitioner at the Henry Ford Health System's main campus in Detroit, said she's taking every precaution she can to avoid spreading COVID-19, including immediately self-isolating when she returns home. 

"I can't say we're not bringing it home, because we are being exposed," she said. "But the thing is that we're doing our very best to wear masks, hand-washing, all of the steps you take to make sure that you don't get infected."

Strict new mandatory quarantine rules come into effect

The federal government is imposing strict, mandatory quarantine rules on travellers returning to Canada and is promising heavy fines and jail time for those who ignore the warning.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said early Wednesday that, "effective at midnight tonight," all travellers returning to Canada — with the exception of what the federal government is calling "essential workers" — will have to enter a mandatory 14 days of isolation under the Quarantine Act whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus.

"This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate," she told the Senate, where she was discussing the Liberal government's emergency legislation to free up billions of dollars to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Starting Thursday morning, border officers will begin informing all returning Canadians and permanent residents of the new orders and telling them that they're forbidden to stop along the way.

5 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Sarnia-Lambton region

Lambton Public Health and Bluewater Health have confirmed there are five COVID-19 cases in the Sarnia-Lambton region. 

Each of the five people who tested positive for the disease are in their 60s. Health officials say they are recovering in isolation in hospital. 

According to a press release from Bluewater Health, the five individuals each presented themselves at Bluewater's emergency department where they were tested. 

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