By: Mike Anderson

A 70-year-old Newmarket woman, who tested positive for COVID-19 at Southlake Regional Health Centre on February 29, did not travel to Georgina, according to York Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karim Kurji.

The woman, who recently returned from a trip to Egypt, is currently in self-isolation, as her symptoms were not severe enough to admit her to the hospital. 

According to Dr. Kurji, York Region Public Health traced her movements and confirmed that she came into close contact with only four family members, all of whom are also in self-isolation. 

There are now six positive cases of COVID-19 in York Region, but Dr. Kurji says all the cases are travel-related, and there has been no evidence of the virus spreading in the community, so the risk to residents remains low.

“We have been working hard to put a fence around the cases, so they would not have any exposure to the community,” Dr. Kurji says.  “We are using a containment strategy, and we are confident that we can continue to keep the community safe.”

Dr. Kurji says that cases in self-isolation must stay in a separate room and are not allowed to interact with visitors or even members of their family. They must wear a mask and use a separate washroom. They also can’t share kitchen utensils. 

According to Dr. Kurji, York Region Public Health has isolated over 500 people so far, but most were released after their tests came back negative — there are currently 34 people in self-isolation awaiting test results.  

While there have been calls to expand COVID-19 testing, Dr. Kurji says all the positive cases have come from outside the region, so there is no evidence to justify widespread community testing. 

But he wants to hedge this bet by asking the province to add York Region hospitals to the list of Toronto hospitals that are currently testing patients with flu-like symptoms for the virus.

“I don’t think we need to do any more than just get the province to include some of the York Region hospitals in their surveillance mechanism so then we can have a better handle on anything that starts to appear in York Region,” he says.

“I think I would be quite satisfied with the evidence to suggest that we don’t have anything circulating, once I have that other additional piece.”

For that latest information on COVID-19, including tips on protecting yourself, please visit York Region Public Health.



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