'We have to assume this virus is circulating locally,' says Sudbury's top doc
SUDBURY -- Sudbury health officials say there are two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city and they're bracing for more.
As of Thursday evening, there were almost 11,000 Ontarians being investigated for coronavirus infection. Both Sudbury and Timmins currently have six cases each.
"We have to assume that the virus is circulating locally and everyone is asked to stay home unless essential to do otherwise and two keep two-metres apart when you must go out," said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health in a statement late Wednesday night.
In a phone interview with CTV News, Dr. Sutcliffe revealed they plan to stop releasing specific information in news releases and will only be posting the information on the Public Health Sudbury and Districts' website.
"If there are developments including cases that you know are signalling something different… that will be the subject of news releases, but if we continue to see cases that are linked to other cases or with exposures that can be explained - then we wouldn't do... it's sort of not-newsworthy we're thinking," said Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe says they'll continue to do lot of work behind the scenes, including sourcing out potential infections.
She adds anyone who might have come into contact with these individuals will be notified by Public Health.
"I think we need to act in a precautionary way and assume that we have local or community transmission and so what that means is we just can't know who is infected," she said.
Health officials are bracing for more confirmed cases, particularly once Ontario is able to make its way through the backlog of tests it's dealing with in Toronto.
In a teleconference with the media Thursday afternoon, Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario revealed there are plans in the works to increase the capacity of testing.
Ontario is currently working its way up to a capacity of 3,000 tests per day and is hoping to hit the 5,000 mark by the end of the week.
Deputy Minister of Health and chair of the COVID-19 command table, Helen Angus, also revealed they're currently bringing additional sites on-board and looking at new testing techniques, all options are being considered.
Angus is hoping they'll be able to have a capacity of roughly 19,000 by mid-April.
As it stands now, any testing done in northern Ontario has to be sent to Toronto and the Public Health laboratory.
"Not only are we looking at hospitals who are able to take this on but also we want to work with our commercial lab partners, they have tremendous infrastructure that goes across the whole province as I'm sure you all know so it's a little bit of a combination of where can we certify another lab to do this," said Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health.
Health officials say they still need more data before they can tell if this virus is slowing down or we're any closer to 'flattening the curve.'
Corrected a misquote/typo.