The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit has detected a significant increase in cases of COVID-19 in the past week in Lanark East and United Counties of Leeds and Grenville East – areas close to Ottawa. Our report shows 41 new cases in the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville East and 33 new cases in Lanark East since March 28th. Kemptville and Carleton Place have the greatest increase in new infections.

A high proportion of the new infections (17% in Lanark East and 34% in United Counties of Leeds and Grenville East) are COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOC) – mostly the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the UK). This variant is able to spread more easily with close contact between people. Symptoms may also be more severe with an increased need for hospital care.

The COVID-19 variants have also been found in other parts of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark area in smaller numbers. So everyone needs to ensure they are following public health precautions carefully.

Reducing close contact outside of one’s household is essential to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including avoiding all social gatherings. Stay local and avoid travel outside the region. Practice physical distancing – stay 2 meters (6 feet) away from people in public areas, and wear a well-fitted two or three-layer mask (unless you have a medical exemption). Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer after being in touch with others or handling anything from outside your home.

Pay attention to even mild symptoms including headache, sore throat, congestion, fatigue, fever, diarrhea and loss of taste or smell. This is the start of allergy season. If your symptoms are any different than your usual ones, go to be tested. Complete the online self-assessment. If you are recommended for testing, self-isolate, and seek testing at an Assessment Centre.

For more information about COVID-19, visit www.healthunit.org/coronavirus or call 1-800-660-5853 x2499. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @LGLHealthunit