WINDSOR, ONT. With case numbers in Windsor Essex continuing to exceed previous high levels, the workload of the 40 contact tracing devices in the health unit is overwhelming.
“Everyone is busy,” said Teresa Marinetti, chief executive of the health unit in Windsor Essex, during a news briefing this week. “This year, since March, everyone has been working at full capacity … Every outbreak we report, every case is an additional burden on our resources.”
Ontario Health Minister confirmed on Wednesday that help is on the way.
“We have also been in contact with Windsor-Essex and are providing 24 regional contact tracing tools to assist in the work they are already doing to do manage these contacts to help with numbers control,” said Minister Christine Elliott.
But the local neo-Democrats are wondering if it will come soon enough.
“They are getting $ 9 billion in unused funding for coronavirus relief, as exhausted frontline workers scramble to keep the virus in trouble,” said Lisa Gretzky, MPP in Windsor West. “People get sick and die.”
“We need more help and we need it now,” said Windsor Tecumseh MPP, Percy Hatfield. “Speaker of the House of Representatives, will the Minister give WECHU the resources they need immediately and prevent this looming collapse?”
There are currently 18 outbreaks in the region and at least 25 school groups have been separated due to positive cases.
With more than 400 active cases and 1,000 people identified as having close contact with confirmed cases, public health officials say contact tracing is getting harder – and notifying time of potential exposure extending from two to three days.
Minister Elliott said 96 percent of cases and 89 percent of calls are reached within 24 hours, but he promises to provide resources as needed.
“To be able to flatten the curve, protect the people and the health and well-being of the residents of Windsor Essex,” said Elliott, “which has been our goal since the start of this pandemic.”
Marinette says the promised employees, as well as the new ones, still need to join.
“It takes us a few days to reach people who have cases because of the high number of our cases,” she said. “So, with more employees in the next week to 10 days, maybe we should handle it better after that.
Until then, Dr Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health at WECHU suggests that people stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus and possibly push the area into more lockdown restrictions.
In public, he offers the same advice he has been suggesting since the start of the pandemic: limit social contact, wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, and maintain an appropriate physical distance.
“Although some of these measures that we recommend may seem basic and trivial, these are the measures that still protect people,” he said.
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