Coronavirus: Peterborough health unit reports no new cases, shortage of swabs for testing

There have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Peterborough area, but there is a shortage of swabs for testing, according to the region’s health unit.

At Peterborough Public Health’s media conference Tuesday medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra said the man who tested positive for COVID-19 is “doing well.”

The health unit said the man in his 30s travelled to Spain and Portugal in late February. He returned to Canada and began experiencing flu-like symptoms on March 1. He went to Peterborough Regional Health Centre on March 12 and is now home self-isolating. Trent University confirmed the man is associated with its Peterborough campus.

The health unit noted tests are underway for 12 other individuals considered “close contacts” of the patient.

She also said someone in an unnamed longterm care home with respiratory symptoms is currently being tested for COVID-19.

“We know that’s a vulnerable population, and once we pick it up there, we know they haven’t travelled, so we are looking for it,” she said

Peterborough Regional Health Centre late Monday opened its COVID-19 assessment centre located in the emergency department.

Salvaterra also noted the heath unit is experiencing a shortage of unique throat swabs required for testing for COVID-19. Thirty more are expected to arrive Tuesday from the Public Ontario Health lab, Salvaterra said.

“There is a global shortage and we may need to prioritize who can and can’t be tested,” she said.

She also said area general practitioners are being asked to contribute their chlamydia swabs which also can work to test for COVID-19.

“There are some backup swaps that can potentially be used if you don’t have enough COVID swabs,” she said. “And I know the hospital has their supply and they have also asked community physicians who aren’t using their swabs to give them their swabs.”

The medical officer of health said GPs are also being asked to contribute un-needed personal protective equipment like eyeshields, masks, gloves and Tyvek suits – a brand of medical protective suits.

“Because we had to close our dental services, except for emergencies, we are training the two staff members to man the phone lines,” said Salavaterra

More to come.

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