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Contact tracing getting more difficult with COVID-19 case surge: public health

Journal Staff It's safest to celebrate Christmas with family and loved ones virtually this year, Lambton’s medical officer says. Dr.
A health-care worker speaks to a motorist lined up to get a COVID-19 test at the Twin Bridges Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic drive-through testing centre this summer. Journal photo

Journal Staff

It's safest to celebrate Christmas with family and loved ones virtually this year, Lambton’s medical officer says.

Dr. Sudit Ranade blamed a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases on “intentional socializing” including meat raffles, dart leagues, recreational activities, holiday gatherings, and office and workplace functions.

“It is those kinds of activities… that really drive the spread of disease,” Ranade said on a media call Monday. “It’s putting you at risk, your family at risk, your loved ones at risk, and vulnerable people in the community at risk.”

Extra staff were brought in for contact tracing on what was a record-setting weekend for new COVID-19 cases, Dr. Ranade said. Public health are managing contact tracing now, but it will get harder if cases continue to rise, he said.

Sarnia-Lambton added 46 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday. Over 100 cases have been added since Dec. 1.

There are 66 active cases in Sarnia-Lambton right now, with six new COVID-19 cases Monday. One case was resolved, and 28 have died from the infection. One patient remains in hospital.

Much of Ontario heads into a 28-day lockdown on Boxing Day in an attempt to curb climbing COVID-19 cases and forecasted strain on hospital ICUs in January, Premier Doug Ford said Monday.

Ranade advised residents not to schedule social gatherings before the province-wide lockdown takes effect. Last minute shopping should be done with caution, he added. “My advice related to that is be careful, use caution.”

Seven outbreaks are currently now underway, including one at the Insignia Hotel and two separate outbreaks at Nova Chemicals’ Rokeby Site and its Corunna Cracker Expansion Project.

Ranade said there isn’t enough information to say workplace outbreaks in the Chemical Valley are a result of workers coming from other communities.

“I don’t have enough information to say it was definifinitively people from other places that started this. And even if I did I would say, whether it’s true or not, it’s also people here who are continuing it with their behaviour.”

Ultra-low temperature freezers are ready for the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in Sarnia-Lambton, Ranade said.

There is no timeline on when the new Pfizer-Moderna vaccine will arrive locally, but officials are ready and plans are underway, Ranade said. Canada’s first approved vaccine, which needs to be stored at -60 degrees celsius, will likely be distributed at the hospital, he said.

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