The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit has detected a significant increase in cases of COVID-19 in the past week in a couple of areas closest to Ottawa.
It's latest report shows 41 new cases in United Counties of Leeds and Grenville East and 33 new cases in Lanark East since March 28. More specifically, the health unit says Kemptville and Carleton Place have the greatest increase in new infections in the two areas.
A high proportion of the new infections (17 per cent in Lanark East and 34 per cent 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.
The health unit is calling on residents to following public health precautions carefully, and reduce close contacts outside of their households. Residents should also avoid travel outside the region, practice physical distancing, wash their hands often and wear well-fitted two or three-layer masks (unless there is a medical exemption).
In the workplace, the health unit says residents should ensure a well-fitted two or three layer mask (unless you have a medical exemption) and eye protection is worn when within two metres of others, if there isn’t a barrier between people, and also when in small rooms or offices. It's asking people to avoid carpooling, and, if co-workers are together for breaks and lunch time, ensure the room is large and well ventilated with plenty of room between people, as masks will be off to eat. Be aware that a co-worker is bringing their previous contact with others into the workplace.
The health unit says, 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. Anyone with symptoms different than usual should be tested for COVID-19.