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Residents cautioned about gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving

Local residents should limit Thanksgiving’s gathering this weekend to avoid spreading COVID-19, says Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke.

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Brant’s acting medical officer of health urged people to phone or set up video calls with family and friends.

Distroscale

“Keeping our loved ones safe has to be our top priority,” she said Tuesday in her regular weekly media briefing.

Her advice came as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, with Quebec and Ontario leading the way. Government and health officials in Ontario and elsewhere are urging people to avoid indoor gatherings and discouraging visits to restaurants and bars.

“It’s disappointing to have to reimpose restrictions and these decisions made on a provincial scale are not made lightly,” said Urbantke. “That being said, our community has shown a willingness to do what is necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the past and I’m confident we can continue to do so in the future.”

She said advice on Halloween is still being determined since health-care officials are just trying “to get through Thanksgiving at this point.”

The doctor said Brantford and Brant County haven’t seen a spike in cases being experienced elsewhere in the province.

“There were nine (active) cases in our jurisdiction for the week ending Oct. 4,” Urbantke said.

“This number is not surprising given the provincial trends we continue to see.”

Three more cases of the virus were added Tuesday to statistics kept by the Brant County Health Unit.

All the active local cases are isolating at home.

According to data produced by Public Health Ontario, the last seven local cases are people younger than 40.

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An outbreak at Charlotte Villa Retirement Home in Brantford was declared over Tuesday with just one case identified.

And, while a school outbreak continues at Cobblestone Elementary in Paris, no further positive test results have been found in connection with the initial two cases, said Urbantke.

With virus numbers rising in the Greater Toronto Area, Urbantke said local residents working or visiting in the GTA must ensure they are following public health measures.

“You have to be very aware of the situation you’re in and make sure to sanitize your hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.”

With testing facilities overwhelmed, the province changed testing guidelines so that only those who are symptomatic or exposed to someone with COVID can get tested.

Urbantke said she believes wait time for test results locally is too long.

“I know in the first part of September the average result took 2 1/2 days but, over the last week, I believe that’s increased to four days.”

The doctor said she has heard from some who say their results took much longer.

“When I say four days, that’s average so there will be outliers. We would like to see lower test turnaround times because it would make case and contact tracing management simpler as well.”

Of the 199 local cases, 155 have been within Brantford and 44 in Brant, meaning the city has an incidence rate of 159 cases per 100,000 and the county has a rate of 120.

As well, Ohsweken Public Health,  announced a new case in that community on Monday, bringing the total on Six Nations of the Grand River to 21.

The COVID-19 assessment centre at the Brantford civic centre auditorium expanded its hours and capacity last week and is performing an average of 500 tests a day.

Appointments can be made between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends. To register, leave your name and number in an email at covid.assessment@bchsys.org or call 519-751-5818.

Those who are asymptomatic can schedule an appointment for a test with the Shoppers Drug Mart on Colborne Street West.

SGamble@postmedia.com

@EXPSGamble

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