Interim Windsor-Essex MOH explains decision to close St. Joseph's


The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's decision to close St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Windsor due to an outbreak of COVID-19 was a top issue at Thursday morning's health briefing. 

Interim Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says these decisions are not made lightly and a number of factors are considered.

He says the first is to look at the disease burden in the community.

"Right now in Windsor-Essex it has one of the highest levels of disease activity in the province. Looking at the metrics like the number of cases, number of active cases, number of new cases, percent positivity. Looking at the broader community, there's a significant amount of COVID-19 activity in the community," he says.

Secondly, Nesathurai says they look at the institutions themselves and assess the risk of transmission.

He says this was not a directive from the public health service, but a recommendation to the school board.

"We knew that before we made this recommendation that we had approximately 200 young people recognized as potentially exposed to COVID-19 and that's in a school population I think of 800 young people," he says.

Most importantly, Nesathurai says they have to consider the consequences of what decisions they have to consider.

"Our goal still remains to try and contain COVID-19 and our other goal is to try and prevent spread from school to school to school," he says. "Because I think one of the most important public health priorities is to keep instruction for young people available."

Dr. Nesathurai again urged those in the Windsor-Essex community who still aren't vaccinated to get vaccinated of behalf of their neighbours, children and the most vulnerable.