By Jenn Watt
A man in his 90s who had no recent history of travel or contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was the first person in Haliburton County to test positive for the coronavirus.
The man is recovering after arriving at the Haliburton hospital by ambulance on March 30 presenting with abdominal pain according to the local health unit. He was later diagnosed with pneumonia and received a positive test result for COVID-19 on April 1.
Since that time a second person has tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Norm Bottum a member of the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team said it's important to note the first case of coronavirus was spread through community contact and was not travel-related.
"The gentleman who was admitted was a community contact. He wasn't travelling out of country so that's important for people to know because I had always assumed that our first case would be somebody coming back from Florida or Cuba or something like that and it turned out to be somebody who had contact through community contacts so that's really important to know because it's out there and you have to be careful in every environment" he said.
He said personal contacts of the man with COVID-19 had been tested at the recommendation of the admitting doctor.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services has been preparing for weeks to accommodate patients with the coronavirus.
"What we've been doing over the last two weeks in preparation is to try not to admit patients to the hospital move patients that were waiting for long-term care to long-term care facilities" Dr. Bottum said "so the Ministry of Health has helped us [because] typically people who are in hospital waiting for long-term care are not deemed high priority. Deeming them high priority to open up the space they jump to the top of the list it's allowed us to open up our acute care."
As of Friday only three patients were still in acute care and the doctor said one was anticipated to be leaving shortly freeing up most of the 15 beds in the Haliburton hospital.
On Tuesday of last week a COVID-19 assessment centre was set up in the parking lot of the Haliburton Family Medical Centre on Gelert Road receiving patients by appointment only. During the four days it was open last week 34 patients were seen with most of those people being tested for the coronavirus. Several of those tests are still awaiting results.
You do not need to be a patient at the medical centre but you do first need to complete the online self-assessment at Ontario.ca/coronavirus and if prompted by the self-assessment call 705-457-1212 (and press six) to book an appointment.