Two new cases of COVID-19, residents asked not to travel over Easter

COVID

Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Renfrew County on Wednesday as residents are being urged not to travel over the Easter long weekend. 

The two cases pushed active cases up to 34 in the area as of Thursday morning with seven people being treated for the virus in hospital. 

Dr. Robert Cushman, Chief Medical Officer for Renfrew County, said he's never been more concerned than now heading into the long weekend, as he urged residents not to travel or host gatherings for the holiday. 

"I can't stress enough, we have to get through this weekend," Cushman said, noting despite an impending province-wide lockdown, he would be lobbying for further restrictions on the area anyway because of the spread of variants within the community. 

Renfrew County Paramedic Chief Mike Nolan, whose team does a majority of the COVID swabbing in the area, said this week they've seen the numbers of people showing up at swabbing clinics 'explode' over the past week or so. 
 
"The days and weeks to come I think should be of concern to all of us knowing that the variant is here in Renfrew County," Nolan told CTV News. 

Nolan agrees that the Easter long weekend poses a threat to the county, especially with visitors leaving more restricted areas for social gatherings.

"People are thinking of being with family members, wanting to be outside, and maybe have a backyard get together, as seemingly innocuous as that seems," says Nolan.

"You have to really consider what you’re bringing with you when you’re living in a community that has not only community spread, but also a greater likelihood of you being a transmitter of COVID."

Ontario reported 2,333 new cases on Wednesday, continuing a stretch of new cases over 2,000 for the past week, while 15 more deaths were also reported. 

There are now 1,111 people hospitalized with the virus in Ontario and 396 people in intensive care, numbers that have health officials concerned about hospital capacity in the province. It's being cited as one of the biggest reasons for a 28-day lockdown that is reportedly set to take effect in Ontario as of Saturday. Premier Doug Ford is expected to make the announcement on Thursday afternoon. 

-With files from CTV's Dylan Dyson