Ontario sends extra contact tracers to Windsor-Essex as region on verge of lockdown

The Ontario government has sent two dozen contact tracers to Windsor, Ont., as public health officials there grapple with numerous COVID-19 outbreaks and warn the region is on the verge of entering lockdown.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, says the region is sending daily updates to the province on the state of 17 active outbreaks.

The region entered the red level of the province’s tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework on Monday.

Two weeks earlier, it had entered the yellow level, before advancing to orange.

Read more: Windsor mayor apologizes for breaking COVID-19 rules when dining out with 7 people

Ahmed says the impact on schools is of particular concern, with two elementary schools currently closed due to outbreaks.

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At one school, 29 students and nine staff tested positive for the virus.

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Ahmed says school outbreaks are a symptom of community spread, so if the region can’t control the virus, more schools could be forced to close.

He says the region’s proximity to the U.S.-Canada border is also an issue.

The Windsor-Essex Public Health unit recorded 41 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with two new deaths.

The province as a whole, meanwhile, is reporting 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 35 new deaths due to the virus.

Click to play video 'Retail coalition asks Ontario government to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Toronto, Peel Region' Retail coalition asks Ontario government to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Toronto, Peel Region

Retail coalition asks Ontario government to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Toronto, Peel Region

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 500 new cases in Peel Region, 410 cases in Toronto, and 196 cases in York Region.

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In the province’s long-term care homes, 664 residents currently have COVID-19 and 22 new deaths have been reported today.

The province says 111 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.

It also reported 166 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 140 among students.

Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 742 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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