Probable COVID-19 case in Stratford is first in Huron-Perth school community

Huron Perth Public Health is reporting a probable case of COVID-19 connected to St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School in Stratford, Ont.

The health unit says it determined a member of the school community is a probable case during a case and contact investigation into a separate, recently confirmed case of COVID-19.

Officials say the probable case “was at the school when they may have been infectious.”

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A probable case is defined as a case where COVID-19 is strongly suspected and the patient has travel history, contact with a known case, and/or symptoms but has not been tested.

Probable cases are treated similarly to confirmed cases when it comes to case management. In this case, close contacts have been advised to stay home from school and quarantine while the wider school community — parents and guardians and staff — have been notified of the probable case.

The health unit also clarifies that not all individuals waiting for test results are probable cases. As well, probable and suspect cases aren’t listed on the HPPH’s confirmed cases page online.

“This is a low-risk situation for the school community and the public at large. However, out of an abundance of caution, we will be taking the situation seriously to prevent the possible spread of the virus in a school,” says medical officer of health Dr. Miriam Klassen.

“Knowing how much interest there is in our schools and in keeping them open, and because this is the first school-related exposure in our area, we’d like to again inform the public about our process for managing confirmed or probable cases in schools.”

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Klassen says they will not routinely comment on probable or confirmed cases in school settings going forward, “unless there is an outbreak or there are other public health considerations for the community at large.”

HPPH says it will not provide further details of this case due to privacy considerations, including information about how many close contacts are in quarantine.

The health unit says the school remains open and staff are working with the Huron Perth Catholic District School Board (HPCDSB), school administration, and members of the school community.

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“I am confident in the assessment from public health that the risk to our school community is low,” says education director Chris N. Roehrig.

“We are working closely with public health and are committed to following the processes established by the Ministry of Education and Public Health organizations to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.”

HPPH reminds the wider public to “continue to practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing, wear a face covering, stay at home if you are sick and download the COVID-19 Alert mobile app.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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