COVID-19 has officially reached the County of Haliburton with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit confirming the first six cases in the area April 1 and 13.

The health unit said the first case was a man in his 90s, who was brought to Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) March 30, diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID19. The County resident had no travel history and had not been in direct contact with any other confirmed cases. HKPR said the man was admitted to hospital, isolated and is recovering.

HKPR medical officer of health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy said it is another reminder to take precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and hand washing. The first Haliburton case comes more than two weeks after the first case in the district, which was March 11 in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“I don’t know why it’s taken this long to have a first case confirmed in Haliburton,” Noseworthy told The Highlander. “People should take appropriate precautions. They should stay home unless they’re providing an essential service.”

The health unit indicated it would not send media releases about cases beyond the first but will continue to provide updated numbers on cases, deaths and outbreaks.

In a press release, Noseworthy said the health unit has worked with HHHS throughout the pandemic to prepare for a positive case. HHHS also partnered with the County and the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team to open a COVID testing centre March 31.

“We will continue to take the steps required to protect the health and safety of our community, patients, residents, clients, staff and physicians, and encourage everyone to do their part to keep our community safe,” HHHS CEO and president Carolyn Plummer said.

Noseworthy said she had no idea how many unconfirmed cases there might be in Haliburton but added people “should assume it’s in the community” and limit trips to essential ones, such as grocery shopping.

“Very, very, very important that people stay home, stop the spread and stay safe,” she said.

There are still people not heeding that directive, Noseworthy said.

“For the most part, they are, but I do believe there are people out there who aren’t,” Noseworthy said. “We know there are people congregating out in the community … and that’s got to stop.”

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