Most of us will have ventured out into the new world of social distancing and staying home but most of us are not infected nor mandated to self-isolate. But Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says they have “heard from many people that there are others who have returned from travel or been confirmed to have COVID-19 and are seen outside of their home, shopping or visiting friends”. Since this is a serious risk to the community, the HKPR District Health Unit today (April 14) issued a Class Section 22 Order with a penalty of up to $5,000 a day. The order requires that anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is considered a probable case, or has had contact with a confirmed case, must self-isolate in their home for 14 days. If they fail to do so, the Health Unit can ask the court to fine them up to $5,000 a day.
A statement from the HKPR District Health Unit states:
The Health Protection and Promotion Act authorizes the Medical Officer of Health to make a Class Order to address the risks presented by the potential spread of COVID-19 to residents of the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland and Haliburton Counties. While most people who have or may have COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, have been compliant with instructions from public health authorities to self-isolate, there are individuals who do not take these measures seriously enough. This Class Order is a legal tool to help the Health Unit ensure that everyone who needs to self-isolate, complies.
It seems that not everyone understands what self-isolation means or if they do, they are ignoring the restrictions.
Self-isolation means not leaving home at all or having any visitors except as permitted by HKPR District Health Unit (for example, where a health care worker is visiting the home). People in self-isolation should arrange to have groceries and other necessities delivered to them.
If a person with COVID-19 is homeless, or where their home is otherwise unsuitable or unsafe for isolation purposes, they will be accommodated in an isolation facility to be determined.
The HKPR District Health Unit are:
- Asking all residents to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons including groceries, medicines and medical appointments. Daily exercise should be done alone or with one family member, or to exercise a pet.
- Encouraging people over the age of 70 to stay at home, emerging only for essential needs (groceries, medications, or seeking healthcare). If possible, they should rely on family and social supports to minimize interaction with others. This advice also applies to people who have underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Asking people who have seasonal cottages to refrain from going to the cottage, as it could put extra strain on the already limited resources of the cottage communities.
- Essential businesses that choose to remain open should work to limit access to their facilities and the number of occupants on their premises. They must also move their operations to delivery and pick-up as much as possible and maximize physical distancing, infection prevention and control practices, and cleaning.
- Essential businesses that choose to remain open should also consider active screening of their employees and staff for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
If residents who are not symptomatic or not required to self-isolate at home must leave their home, they are reminded to practise physical distancing, avoid crowds and physical contact, and stay a safe distance of two metres from other people.
You’d think by now that everyone – not just most, but everyone – would understand the plan and follow the rules. With the emergency now extended to May 12, this problem is not going away anytime soon.