Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington has its temporary Pandemic Response Unit field hospital ready to go as it appears the second wave of the coronavirus has arrived. The structure was put up in the spring but has not been used.
Fortunately, Burlington has had so few cases of COVID-19 that they all have been treated in the hospital itself.
“That first wave did not overwhelm our health care system,” said Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns in a recent Zoom call with constituents. “But we must remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus.”
As of Oct. 2, there were only 275 active cases in Burlington and just seven deaths. A total of 225 people who had the virus have recovered. That’s for a population of 175,000.
Overall, Ontario had 52,980 active cases and 2,927 deaths. A total of 44,850 cases have been resolved. A total of 13.6 million people live in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford has announced that the Province is providing people with access to free COVID-19 testing at pharmacies in the province.
Individuals, within provincial testing guidance, will be able to visit select pharmacies by appointment only, and they will be pre-screened and then tested at no charge. When visiting a pharmacy people should wear a face covering, make sure they have washed their hands and maintain physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.
Residents who have symptoms or are concerned that they might have been exposed to the virus can also, of course, attend an Assessment Centre. But they must call 311 to make an appointment.
Burlingtonians can call (905) 632-3737, ext 6550 to book an appointment at the Joseph Brant Hospital COVID-19 Assessment Clinic.
Anyone with severe symptoms, should call 9-1-1 immediately.
Children have returned to school, but already cases of the virus have been detected at Nelson high school and St. Patrick’s elementary school.
One classroom at St. Patrick’s has been closed.
When a positive COVID-19 case is identified at a school, Halton Region Public Health will follow their contact tracing protocol and reach out to any close contacts. All families and staff at the school will be notified by email of any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.
The issue of whether kindergarten children should be required to wear masks sparked a lively debate at a meeting of the Halton Catholic School Board.
The board voted by a slim margin of 5-4 to continue with the requirement for them to wear masks.
Laura Keating, a parent, made the point that the goal should be to keep as many children as possible safe from the virus.
On the other hand, another parent Nicole Deveau claimed wearing masks could have a negative side effect on the children’s health.
Learning from the experience of the first wave, Burlington MP Karina Gould said the federal government is ready to get tough with corporations who operate lodging for seniors under shoddy conditions
“The Prime Minister has made an important commitment to work with the provinces on National Standards for Long-Term Care (LTC) and an update to the Criminal Code to hold those who look after our elders to account,” she said. “The crisis in LTC existed before COVID-19, we have a moral obligation to respond, even if it is a provincial jurisdiction.”
Burlington bars and restaurants appeared to do well with their patios over the warm summer and some have even opened their doors with social-distancing. However, how long that lasts is difficult to say.
The first lockdown was not unlike what Burlington went through during the Spanish flu epidemic that started in 1918 and lasted for three years.
The Burlington Gazette issue of October 9, 1918, reported that “The Spanish Flu struck Burlington last week and over 200 cases have been reported. The pubic schools, Sunday schools, and theatres have been closed.
A week later it said if the epidemic gets worse churches would be closed soon after that.
The newspaper then made the following conclusion.
“When – not if – the next pandemic virus emerges, labs will know how to sequence the genome quickly. If there was any positive outcome from this devastating event, it was the formation by the Canadian government of a Federal Department of Health to co-ordinate and give leadership in matters that directly affect the health and safety of Canadians.”
Stay tuned to see if they deliver.
By DENIS GIBBONS