Sioux Lookout’s second reported case of COVID-19 asymptomatic when testing positive
Tim Brody - Editor
After approximately three weeks with no new COVID-19 cases being reported by the Northwestern Health Unit, new cases were reported in the Red Lake area on May 21, in Fort Frances on May 20, in the Dryden area on May 19 and in Sioux Lookout on May 16.
The Northwestern Health Unit informed of an additional new case on May 15, noting on its Facebook page, “This case has not been in our region and lives in southern Ontario, but had an outdated home address listed in our region. We are working to ensure the (provincial) database reflects this.”
Speaking to area media last week, NWHU Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Gemmill shared that the Sioux Lookout case, a woman of approximately 50 years of age from the Sioux Lookout area, was in isolation.
Gemmill said the case was a bit unusual due to the fact that the woman was asymptomatic, showing no signs of COVID-19.
The woman had been tested in advance of undergoing a medical procedure.
Gemmill shared, “Going back over that person’s situation, we found that there were a couple of household contacts and also two personal service providers who are likely to have been exposed. That doesn’t mean they’re infected, but likely to have been exposed and therefore we’ve asked them to be in quarantine as well… The person actually was not symptomatic and therefore, this is the reason the individual was not in isolation beforehand.”
Gemmill also shared that the woman had traveled around the area, but not internationally, “Perhaps that has played a role. I think we’re going to have to be thinking about this a bit more and perhaps asking a few more questions to be able to ascertain… and of course one sometimes never finds out who the source is and that’s when we start thinking about could this be local transmission, so because of the asymptomatic nature of the case and because of the fact that travel has not been far afield, it’s really still a little uncertain.”
He added, “Because they were not symptomatic, we also believe that they were probably not likely able to transmit it very effectively because we know that it’s really close contact and then exposure to the droplets that are caused by coughing, sneezing, laughing, singing, shouting, that sort of thing, that can transmit it. And so our hope is that efficient transmission was not really very likely.”
On May 19, a letter from the Northwestern Health Unit signed by Gemmill informed that, “At this time, Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) strongly recommends that residents do not travel outside of the community that they live in, unless for essential purposes.
“Individuals who travel outside of their community should self-monitor for 14 days, and self-isolate if symptoms develop. Anyone with symptoms can and should get tested for COVID-19.
For more information about testing, the public can call NWHU’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-468-2240.
“People who decide to travel outside of their community are reminded to practice personal protective measures, including physical distancing and hand hygiene throughout their time away from home.”
The Northwestern Health Unit is reminding people to assume COVID-19 is in their community and to practice physical distancing, wash hands often, and disinfect commonly touched surfaces regularly.