Rate of COVID-19 infection creeping up in Eastern Ontario

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Outside of new COVID-19 cases showing up in Eastern Ontario, the rate at which the virus is spreading is starting to creep up after hitting a low point in August.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis was asked by Cornwall Newswatch Monday about the rate of transmission of the virus, known as the R0 number (pronounced R-naught).

When the number is R1, it means one person infected is reinfecting one other person. The Ontario average right now is 1.3.

“Our Eastern region is about 1.2-1.4 and the Eastern region includes Ottawa so I bet you they are closer to 1.4 is Ottawa, we’re closer to 1.2. We’re a bit less than that (the Ontario average). Ideally, you want to be less than one,” Roumeliotis told Newswatch.

He says it’s less than in March when the number was 3.

Roumeliotis says they are seeing local trends in the number heading back up.

“We’ve seen it go up a bit. It was 0.9 during August and now it’s gone up to 1.3 provincially. Last week, it was 1.4 so this week is 1.3 to it’s a bit better,” he said.

He’s concerned that the virus is moving a little more quickly in the EOHU area.

“I am. And it really has to do with the contacts, the number of people, and the duration of the contact, so yeah that’s what we’re seeing. We want to keep it less than 1.”

Roumeliotis was also asked by this publication about whether the 196 resolved cases are being tracked long term to see if there are any long term health complications from the virus.

The doctor says they have recently been overwhelmed with contact tracing to be able to gather that information but it’s something that could be done retroactively.

“It’s a good idea though. It’s something I’m keeping in mind and there is something we can do retrospectively. I’ve talked about this provincially at the provincial level as well, that’s a good point. We want to look at long term sequelae. People are talking about those long term sequelae and I do believe they do exist. This is a weird virus. This is a virus that not only causes acute respiratory difficulties but causes blood coagulation issues,” Roumeliotis told Cornwall Newswatch.