Community Spread of COVID-19 Confirmed in Windsor-Essex

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Community spread of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Essex County, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.(WECHU)

There are now 25 cases in Essex County. That's up from 15 on Saturday, the largest jump in the region since the pandemic began. Previous cases confirmed by the WECU had contracted the virus outside of Canada; that changed Sunday.

"The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that 90 per cent of the cases in the last seven days are all community related transmission across Canada," says Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed. "Our test results were delayed. Most of the initial test results we had were travel related, but now we're beginning to see some individuals do not have a travel history."

Still, officials say they have a good handle on the COVID-19 pandemic locally, but warn that could change quickly if residents ignore instructions to stay home.

Based on what's going on around the world, Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says 60 per cent of the local population could contract the virus.

Musyj says 80 per cent of those infected will recover on their own, 15 per cent will need medical treatment, but five per cent could wind up on a ventilator fighting for their life.

"If we do not bend that curve, there are approximately 60 per cent of individuals projected to get COVID-19. Take 400,000 [Population of Essex County] and multiple that by 60 per cent and you've got 240,000 and five per cent of 240,000 is 12,000 people. That's a big number," added Musyj, who hopes a push for self-isolation can get infection projections below 30 per cent.

Dr. Ahmed says officials have focused testing on those most vulnerable to the virus.

"For most people, if you have symptoms it could be COVID-19 and the best thing you can do is stay home rather than infecting other people," says Ahmed.

Health officials acknowledged community spread for the first time Sunday, and also admitted the number of confirmed cases likely don't reflect how many people have the virus in Windsor-Essex.

Windsor Regional Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad says residents should act as though they already have the virus.

"We can't let up on our social distancing and self-isolation. It's going to be critically important, especially now to try and flatten that curve," added Saad. "It's definitely here, we know it's here and we need to take this seriously."