by Derek Baldwin

One more lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Quinte bringing the total number of positive infected cases to seven, reports the local health unit.

The newest case of novel coronavirus infection is listed as a person who had “close contact” with someone who travelled bringing the total number of close-contact cases to three.

The other four cases already included in the daily report card were contracted through travel outside the country, said Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

To date, there is still no person-to-person community transfer in Quinte, according to the numbers.

The latest figures are being reported to the Ontario Ministry of Health which recorded as of 10:30 a.m. Monday,  1,706 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths in the province, including nine deaths at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.

In Canada, 7,286 lab-confirmed cases have been recorded as of Monday with a total 70 deaths nation wide.

The latest numbers come as recommendations were made Monday by health officials that everyone over the age of 70 self-isolate until the growing numbers flatline.

Premier Doug Ford said in a press conference Monday afternoon he may pursue stricter measures to stem the spread of the illness if “we do not see the spread of this virus slow down in the coming days.”

The warning came after Ford reduced the maximum gathering number of 50 in Ontario to five people.

He said he was surprised to see many people out walking along Lake Ontario in Toronto on the weekend and said if the novel coronavirus is to be stopped, people must self-isolate.

Ford told seniors “I want you to know that we’re doing everything in our power to ensure you continue to have access to medicine and essential items you need.”

Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long Term Care, pledged $230 million in the press conference to put an “iron ring” of protection around nursing homes across the province including the 110-bed Centennial Manor in Bancroft as well as the 253-bed Hastings Manor in Belleville.

She said screening will also be ratcheted up at seniors and nursing homes as an extra safeguard.

The local health unit, meanwhile, continues to advise travelers and snowbirds returning to Quinte to go directly home and self-isolate for a mandatory 14 days.

“Earlier this month all travelers were asked to self-isolated when they returned to Canada. Effective March 25, the federal government made this isolation mandatory under the Quarantine Act to better protect our most vulnerable citizens. Each of us must make the responsible decision to follow the advice of health authorities. It’s in everyone’s best interest to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the health unit stated.

If symptoms of COVID-19 develop, individuals are strongly advised to call HPEPH, at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-257-2803, for further direction and guidance, health unit officials advised.