Five members of the Stratford Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19, the city said in a news release on Wednesday, prompting the declaration of an outbreak.
The city said it is working with Huron Perth Public Health and the fire department to manage the outbreak, and said the infected people are isolating at home.
“Our thoughts are with our employees at this time, and we wish them a speedy recovery,” said Chief Administrative Officer Joan Thomson in a statement.
“We also want to assure the community that public safety is our top priority, and it will not be affected by the reduced staffing at the fire department. Service levels will be maintained.”
The public health unit has reported a total of 781 cases across Huron and Perth counties since the pandemic began. Of those, 100 are active, with 659 people who have recovered and 22 people who have died.
“COVID-19 is still in our community, so we need to remain vigilant,” said Mayor Dan Mathieson in the news release. “Let’s continue to follow the advice of our health professionals, and do everything we can to help reduce the spread of this virus.”
In a statement to CTV News Kitchener, Mathieson added "the city takes the health and safety of our staff very seriously."
"We will work with our fire chief and department members to ensure they are safe and have all the necessary supports in place," he said in the statement. "As well the city wants to emphasize that public safety will be maintained during the outbreak and will continue to be vigilant and monitor the situation."
Mathieson said Thursday the cases are all in firefighters.
Officials haven't said how many people are self-isolating as a result of the outbreak.
"All high-risk contacts in their home setting, the community setting and work settings would be identified and asked to isolate," Huron Perth Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen said.
The fire department operates two stations in the city. It's not clear which station is involved in the outbreak.
Employees are working on voluntary overtime to help manage the outbreak.
"We will have the same number of firefighters in the fire halls, so there is no risk to public safety," Mathieson said. "Response times will remain the same."
Mathieson said the city will monitor the cost of that overtime.
"We do have money set aside to help us ensure that we can get through these periods and we will continue to monitor," he said.
The city isn't currently looking for backup from other municipalities.