Sudbury's health unit has initiated a new public reporting procedure that advises the names and locations of businesses and other settings where COVID-19 outbreaks are happening in the community.
The change was announced Wednesday along with comments from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, endorsing the stay-at-home order from the Ontario government that came into effect at 12:01 Thursday morning.
“The situation locally is very serious, and I am supportive of the stronger measures being put into place by the province,” said Sutcliffe.
She said more than half of all recent COVID-19 cases have screened positive for variants of concern (VOCs), new strains of the novel coronavirus.
"We are seeing the virus spread in many locations including workplaces, daycares, and social settings. Under the current restrictions, it is illegal to gather indoors with people not from your household. I cannot stress how important it is to follow public health measures to buy ourselves time as we continue to work to get the vaccine into arms,” Sutcliffe added.
Also, as part of the new procedures, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is now providing more information to the public on where COVID-19 outbreaks are happening in Sudbury.
"To help the community understand where outbreaks are occurring, Public Health will immediately begin to post information about all outbreaks on its website, when there are no personal privacy concerns related to the situation,” PHSD said in a news release.
“With this expanded disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks, Public Health will begin posting details of outbreaks in settings like workplaces, post-secondary institutions, and licensed child care centres."
"This information is in addition to the details already posted related to outbreaks in schools and institutional settings, such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, and congregate living settings," the release continued.
The PHSD decision is in line with similar transparency steps launched by public health in Toronto and Hamilton months ago, on the premise that better informed members of the public can take extra precautions or make decisions on whether they would go to a place or a business where an outbreak has occurred.
Information is being provided to the public on the health unit daily update page.
The changes, which were added to the data page overnight, to show 20 different recent outbreaks in the Sudbury district. This includes:
- Centre Pivot du Triangle Magique, Azilda Site;
- Trillium College Sudbury Campus, one class;
- the Jubilee Heritage Daycare, Applegrove site;
- the Maslack Supply, Falconbridge Location;
- Ivan's Kitchen Cabinets and
- Vale Limited Coleman Mine site/Creighton Mine site, Contractor administration building and underground mine site.
The PHSD page said information on local outbreaks will be posted every day and will continue for one week until an outbreak is declared over. The daily page also lists potential COVID-19 exposure risks. These are local venues where positive COVID-19 carriers visited or worked during their infectious period. PHSD said this would include areas where it was determined there was a risk of public exposure and public health has not been able to track down or trace everyone who might have been exposed.
People who have visited potential exposure areas are advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government.