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UPDATED: Nine new COVID cases; Smiths Falls high school hit

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The tri-county health unit reported nine new COVID-19 cases in the area Wednesday, adding to the four more people who tested positive the previous day.

Nine people also recovered in that two-day stretch, leaving the total number of active cases at 40 as the coronavirus spike continues in the region.

Also Wednesday, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit urged people who went to two Gananoque businesses to be cautious in the wake of COVID infections there.

Both the local health unit and the neighbouring Kingston and area unit are warning the public following a COVID-19 outbreak at the Gananoque Chev Buick GMC Cadillac dealership, at 439 King Street East in Gananoque, and CSN Gananoque Collision Centre, at 380 Herbert Street.

All customers of those businesses who went there from Dec. 2 to 8 “are advised to assess your interactions,” the health units said in a statement.

“Persons who interacted with staff during this time may have been exposed to COVID-19. We therefore recommend that you monitor yourself for symptoms and get tested should any develop.  If you are concerned about a high risk exposure, where either yourself or the staff member was in close proximity and not masked, then you should isolate and contact your local public health unit for further information,” the statement added.

Both health units “have already identified and reached out to many of the high-risk contacts,” it continued.

Also Wednesday, Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute became the latest school to report COVID-19, with one individual there testing positive.

Provincial data had already revealed six staff members and a student at St. Edward Catholic School in Westport have tested positive for COVID-19, while one student has been infected at Rideau Vista Public School. The outbreak has closed St. Edward until further notice.

The Ontario government’s website tallying COVID-19 cases in schools was updated to reflect that one student has been infected at Lyn Public School, while the Smiths Falls high school case was not yet reflected in the statistics.

On Monday, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario also reported a case at St. Francis de Sales in Smiths Falls, which the provincial website identified as a student.

On Tuesday, Gan Chev, announced it is closing temporarily because of COVID-19 infections.

“We have been made aware that several members of our staff have tested positive for COVID-19,” the dealership’s management wrote online.

“We are working closely with our local public health unit and are following their recommendations. We have provided the health unit with all of our contact tracing information and will cooperate with them fully during this time.

“Last night the dealership was disinfected via fog cleaning and we have made the decision to close our doors to the public until we have more direction from the health unit.”

The latest heath unit report, based on numbers collected at 4 p.m. the previous day, brought a few glimmers of good news: The active cases no longer involve residents of long-term care or retirement residences, and none of the patients was in hospital.

Of the 40 active cases, 37 were in the community, while three were health-care workers.

While there remained no active cases in seniors’ facilities, Gananoque’s Fox Run by the River retirement home remained listed as having an outbreak, a precaution taken to account for the virus’s incubation period. (The isolation period for a COVID-19 patient is 10 days, while the incubation period is 14 days.)

The latest active cases were mainly concentrated in Leeds and Grenville, with 11 in Grenville County (an area that includes Prescott), 13 in West Leeds and eight in the eastern Leeds area that includes Brockville, Elizabethtown-Kitley, Front of Yonge and Athens.

There were two cases in Lanark East and six in Lanark West.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 543 cases in the tri-county area; 450 of of the patients have recovered, while 53 have died.

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