Friday, May 1, 2020 Peterborough
Peterborough Public Health Helps Community Gardens to Open During COVID-19 Emergency Orders
Community Gardens Declared an Essential Service by the Province

On April 25, 2020, Ontario announced that community gardens are considered essential services during the COVID-19 emergency orders. Community gardens are a source of fresh local food for many local residents.

​“We are happy to announce that community gardens are now permitted to open, provided that they follow public health requirements to keep everyone safe,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “We look forward to supporting local community garden coordinators as they prepare for the growing season.”

Peterborough Public Health released a document this week outlining these requirements, along with an action plan template that gardens can use to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. “These requirements include cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces. Physical distancing will also be required,” said Dr. Salvaterra. She explained that to allow for this, a maximum of five gardeners are permitted at any given time, and gardeners will need to stay two metres apart from those who don’t live in their same household.

Gardens will also be required to post signs to remind gardeners to stay home if they are sick, wash and sanitize their hands properly, and practice physical distancing. All gardeners are also required to review the Recommendations and Instructions for Safe Community Gardening and COVID-19 Prevention before returning to garden. All resources are available on www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca.
Dr. Salvaterra noted that some gardens may take more time to open than others, and that all garden members and coordinators will need to continue to work together to help keep community gardens safe.
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Friday, May 1, 2020, Peterborough
Lab Error Could Have Resulted in False Positive COVID-19 Results
Peterborough Public Health Advising Retesting of Affected Individuals

Peterborough Public Health (PPH) was notified today from BioTest Laboratories in Ottawa that a technical error has resulted in a decision by the lab to reject all 94 COVID-19 positive test results performed last weekend, including 22 specimens from local residents. There is a concern that these results may have been falsely positive.

Public Health Ontario is aware of the situation and has discontinued, for now, sending any more specimens to BioTest Laboratories for COVID testing.

“Peterborough Public Health has been significantly impacted by this lab event,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “Our staff has worked swiftly to ensure those impacted are informed and retested as we want to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Dr. Salvaterra explained that 22 of 27 positive cases reported for the period of April 22 to 29 were processed at BioTest and will now require further testing to determine their validity. Unfortunately, one person is now deceased. PPH will engage Public Health Ontario’s guidance and support for any potential changes to our COVID-19 reporting.

PPH has already contacted all 21 individuals to advise them of the potential error and recommended they be retested. This will also impact the close contacts of these cases. PPH recommends that anyone identified as a close contact please continue their isolation and self-monitoring until the results of the retesting have been received. All contacts can expect to hear from a PPH public health nurse for further guidance.There is no reason to question the validity of any negative results from Bio Test.

PPH has updated its website to advise the public that the current case count may be inaccurate and will be revised as results from retesting become available.
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