Reduce social circles to household members, Simcoe Muskoka's top doc urges amid COVID-19 uptick

WATCH: Ontario doctors are sounding the alarm as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. There’s concern surrounding the impact it could have on hospital infrastructure and services. Morganne Campbell reports.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s top doctor is urging people to shrink their social circles and to stick with household members for close contact as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.

“We’re having a substantial increase in cases,” Dr. Charles Gardner, the local health unit’s medical officer of health, said at a tele-press conference Tuesday.

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“I think we need to revisit our control measures in the community. I know that there’s active discussion in the province right now about additional control measures that could be in place.”

Gardner said he’s also recommending that people avoid social gatherings when they go out.

“The province still allows a limit of up to 100 people to be gathered in a community, and I would recommend that people shrink that down,” Simcoe Muskoka’s top doctor said.

“Keep your physical distance of two metres in those gatherings from other people, and if you can’t maintain that distance, then wear a mask.”

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Gardner said the health unit must address community transmission of the novel coronavirus that can’t be traced to an initial source when it infects entire households.

“That takes us right back to reducing social gatherings, public gatherings, reducing the social circle down to the household,” he added, noting there are some people who live alone or need assistance from others.

“In those cases, they may very well continue to have another household to assist them.”

Since the start of September, the Simcoe Muskoka region has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases. So far, Gardner said, the health unit has recorded more coronavirus cases in September than it did throughout the entire month of August.

Many of the new cases involve young people who are between the ages of 18 and 34, with Gardner noting that the average age of infection is now 30.

“That’s the youngest that we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said, adding people who are in the age group of 18 to 34 are becoming infected through work-related exposures, social gatherings and their household contacts.

“We’ve got a total of nine clusters happening in households,” he added. “Six of those nine are groupings of young people in a multi-unit dwelling, and the other three are family households.”

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Gardner said even if people do a good job in breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission now, the region will continue to see an upswing in COVID-19 cases before they go back down.

“The cases that are transmitting right now will emerge, and what we’d be preventing by acting now is the cases that follow them,” he said.

“It’s very, very important that we get on to it, because if we don’t, it has all the potential of becoming a substantial second wave.”

Recently, the province of Ontario has also reported an increase in coronavirus cases. On Monday, the province reported 313 new cases, marking the largest single-day increase since June 7.

As of Tuesday, Ontario reported a total of 45,068 COVID-19 cases, including 40,091 recoveries and 2,820 deaths.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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