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COVID-19 numbers continue to rise

An Oshawa elementary and a secondary school are the newest additions to the growing number of schools with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

R.S. McLaughlin CVI and Sinclair Secondary School join 13 other schools within the Durham District School Board (DDSB) with at least one confirmed case of the virus. To date, there are 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in DDSB schools, including three in Oshawa, as Seneca Trail Public School has a confirmed case as well with one class self-isolating for 14 days.

The board released a statement recently advising of the provincial government’s changes to the COVID-19 screening tool for children attending school, effective Oct. 1, which removes stuffy, runny noses from the list of symptoms that requires a COVID-19 test if it’s the only symptom.

Now, children need to isolate and contact a health provider with new or worsening symptoms of fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, or decreased or loss of smell or taste.

Children with one new or worsening symptom, including sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, or fatigue, lethargy, muscle aches or malaise, must stay home for 24 hours to be monitored. If symptoms improve, the child can return to school without a COVID-19 test.

Children with two or more of these symptoms must isolate and contact a health provider for further information or assessment.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, Durham Regional Chair John Henry says it’s important to remain vigilant in the health and safety protocols to help stop the spread of the virus.

“Non-medical masks or face coverings are mandatory for all community members, with the exception of those who have specific health or age restrictions,” says Henry. “With the second wave upon us, it’s important that residents be reminded of the proper techniques for choosing and wearing a mask, to ensure that they are protecting themselves, their families and their neighbours from the spread of COVID-19.”

He notes masks should fit comfortably, be breathable and completely cover the mouth and chin without any gaping holes; hands should be washed before putting on, touching, moving, adjusting, or taking off the mask; and masks should not be worn on the chin, arm, or dangling from the ear between uses.

“There is significant public health evidence that suggests widespread use of non-medical masks or face coverings – when used with other public health recommendations – are effective in the fight against COVID-19,” Henry continues, which he says includes physical distancing in public spaces, frequent hand washing and staying home when sick.

Durham Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Kyle recently released new guidelines, in conjunction with the province, which states masks must be worn in all public indoor spaces and common areas, including apartment buildings and condominiums.

“The use of non-medical masks or face coverings in enclosed public spaces and common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums, along with physical distancing, hand and cough hygiene, and staying home when sick, prevents the spread of COVID-19 within the community,” says Kyle, noting the health department will be taking a “progressive enforcement approach” to ensure compliance, with a focus on education.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 6, there are currently 83 active cases across the region, 14 of which are in Oshawa.