Easter gatherings caused latest COVID-19 spike: Roumeliotis

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, speaks to reporters on Monday, April 12, 2021. Roumeliotis says a 107 case spike over the weekend can be directly attributed to families getting together for Easter. (EOHU/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The region’s top doctor says Easter gatherings can be directly attributed to a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says he was able to confirm the source of infections after talking to contact tracers.

“I asked our contact tracers, where are these coming from? Most of them are family gatherings for Easter and that is exactly what we’re seeing right now,” he told reporters this afternoon.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit added 107 cases this afternoon (Monday) – 48 in Prescott-Russell, 34 in SD&G and 25 in Cornwall – to bring the regional total to 3,807 cases of which 453 are active.

As the province moved today to close schools after this week’s spring break, Roumeliotis says if the province had not made its announcement today (Monday), he would have closed the schools under a Section 22 order in collaboration with Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches.

Roumeliotis noted that the number of infected school-aged children has been steadily increasing since February with 99 cases so far this month (96 in March and 34 in February).

With the variants of concern taking hold, Roumeliotis underscored how important it is for people to follow the stay-at-home order. “The less we are mobile, the better it is for us,” he says.

The EOHU region is in the top 10 of Ontario regions with total number of cases per 100,000 population and in the top five for percentage of variants (72 per cent).

As for vaccinations, Roumeliotis is hopeful that another 35,000 shots will be given between now at the first week of May.