Waterloo Public Health ends listing where public may have been exposed to coronavirus

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After initially posting a couple of locations where the public may have been exposed to patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Waterloo Public Health decided to put an end to the idea of listing them.

“On Monday, we announced that we would post locations where we knew cases had visited when they were symptomatic and they have interacted with people whose identities we didn’t know,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Waterloo Region’s acting medical officer of health on Wednesday. “Although we thought, these were likely low-risk situations, the goal was to try to keep our community informed.”

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A day later, a list was posted which included an Italian restaurant in Kitchener as well as a meeting hall in Seaforth, Ont.

The two locations were taken down later in the day and on Wednesday, Public Health announced that another 26 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Waterloo region.

Wang said the region stopped posting the list because it would be fruitless to do so as the virus is now widespread in the area.

She was asked whether Public Health wished to issue an apology to the first locations, which some may feel were unfairly singled out.

“So it was with my understanding that the owners of that establishment would be informed before the posting went up. Unfortunately, that was not the case,” Wang said “And we are very sorry about that.”

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“It no longer makes sense to identify specific locations which could disproportionately single them out, as well as lead to a false sense of security for people who were not at those locations,” Wang said.

“We were finding as we were getting more cases, we were getting more indication of public places where cases were symptomatic,” she explained. “Before when we had less cases, we were able to usually be able to identify who the cases were in contact with when they were symptomatic.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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