December 9, 2021 In health, Texts

Texts from health unit legitimate, officials say

Author of the article:

Taylor Campbell

Publishing date:

Dec 08, 2021  •  11 hours ago  •  2 minute read  •  7 Comments

 The exterior of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is pictured, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.
The exterior of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is pictured, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Have you received a text message claiming to be from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit? It’s not a scam.

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The local health unit on Wednesday announced it has deployed a virtual assistant to help with COVID-19 case management, as have public health units across the province.

Individuals who test positive for COVID will receive a text message — if they have a mobile phone — containing a secure link. If they consent to sharing some basic information virtually, they can answer a few questions to help streamline their eventual phone interview with a health unit staffer. The link will also contain instructions about self-isolation.

“The system is being used to support efficiency in completing our investigation calls,” said health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis. It will also “expand our outreach capacity for collecting key information to prioritize and plan additional outreach when we have cases identified.”

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The health unit had been receiving questions from members of the public about whether or not the text messages were legitimate, Dupuis said.

“It’s helpful for us to get our investigation started and it allows us to get information quicker for follow up.”

 Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, is shown June 1, 2021.
Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, is shown June 1, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Whenever a person tests positive for COVID-19, a health unit employee calls them and directs them to self-isolate. The employee also conducts an interview, which can last from 30 minutes to an hour, to determine where the individual may have contracted COVID and who they may have exposed before entering self-isolation, among other things.

Dupuis also said the health unit has received questions about when those ages 50 and older would be eligible for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That group can begin booking appointments immediately for vaccination as early as this coming Monday (Dec. 13) by visiting wevax.ca or calling 226-773-2200.

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The health unit on Wednesday reported 80 additional cases of COVID-19, including 23 people who were infected by close contacts, and 24 who caught the virus through community spread. The transmission sources for 33 cases remain under active investigation.

To date, 22,380 area residents have tested positive. Of those, 530 people are still infectious, 477 people have died, and 21,373 cases are considered resolved.

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Area hospitals have 30 COVID patients. Fourteen of them are in intensive care.

Outbreaks remain active at 18 workplaces, four community settings, nine schools, and two long-term care homes.

So far, 81.9 per cent of local residents ages five and up have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 77.3 per cent are fully vaccinated. Third dose booster shots have been administered to 39,386 eligible residents.

tcampbell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/wstarcampbell

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