Health Unit says region is prepared for increase in COVID-19 cases but suggests public get ready too

Associate Medical Officer Of Health urging businesses to prepare for increased absenteeism

One of the region’s top medical officials says we’re well prepared in case of an influx of COVID-19.

Dr. Colin Lee, Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), says a plan is in place to deal with an increase in COVID-19 cases, despite warnings from Canadian doctors on the ground in China, warning of a lack of safeguards here. “I would say that we are prepared,” Dr. Lee told Barrie 360, “respectfully to what has been said in those news reports, we are prepared.”

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“If you look at the five stages of a plan, of any kind of response to an infectious disease,” added Lee, “we’re at a certain stage, and we know what to do if it reaches the level where we have more and more cases and more community transmission.”

While the SMDHU and its associated hospitals are prepared for an increase in cases, Dr. Lee suggests the general public make similar preparations, especially employers. “Start thinking about increased absenteeism, and if that occurs, how will they run the business, how will they facilitate working from home, or have people who can take over for those duties.”

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Dr. Lee says many businesses may already have these types of plans in place, having forgotten due to lack of use, “for instance, just like if there were a power outage or preparations for an influenza pandemic, which was in 2009.” Lee went on to suggest individuals and households make long-term plans for prolonged illnesses within the home, including having a ready supply of any medication. He went on to suggest families decide on who will look after household duties while others are ill.

The Canadian doctor who led a team in China to study the virus says the world “is simply not ready” for a potential pandemic. Dr. Bruce Aylward said countries should already be increasing their hospital bed capacity, stocking up on ventilators and oxygen supplies, developing a quarantine plan, and assessing their laboratory capabilities.