The Glengarry News

Patient was nursing student

publisher Mar 15, 2020 - 9:15pm

The first case of COVID-19 in Eastern Ontario is a woman in her 30s from Prescott-Russell.

She is a nursing student at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, who returned home from a trip to New York March 9 and developed mild symptoms of cough as well as generalized aches and pain. On March 12, she presented herself to the emergency department at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria.

The information was shared today by  Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), during a teleconference.

The hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including infection control, testing, and assessment. Following testing, the patient was discharged home where she remains in self-isolation and is improving.

Late in the afternoon March 14, the test came back confirming that the woman had COVID-19.

To date this is the only positive COVID-19 case in the EOHU region.

Public Health Investigation
The province received the information about a positive case and updated its website immediately at 5:30 March 14. This information was released by the province before the EOHU was able to issue a press release. However, the health unit had already begun the process of contact tracing to determine who might have been exposed to the woman.

The EOHU’s investigation determined that the positive student attended only one class at St. Lawrence College after returning from New York. This was March 10, the day after her return. She also attended a group meeting with three people on this same date. At this time, she had no respiratory symptoms. Symptoms only developed the next day.

Close Contacts Being Monitored and Self-Isolating
Out of an abundance of caution, the EOHU identified four potential close contacts with the woman, who are now being monitored and are self-isolating. One is a contact from the class the woman attended, and the other three are the students who were part of the group meeting.

Beyond these contacts, there was no threat to the rest of the campus, including residences. St. Lawrence College has made the decision to close the campus. The EOHU does not feel that the College was at risk because of this single positive case, since it has been diligent in tracking down the contacts of this case, and her exposure was limited.

However, the EOHU supports the closing of the campus as part of collective social distancing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in general. Again, this is not because of this specific case, but because the health unit has recommended the closing of schools and other gathering places in general.