This transmission electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19. Courtesy photo, credit: NIAID-RML. Courtesy photo

Cindy Macdonald
Record Staff

CORNWALL – The first local person to test positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is a female in her 30s from the Prescott-Russell area. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), provided more information about the the case on Sunday evening.

The individual is a nursing student at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, who returned home from a trip to New York on March 9. Following testing for COVID-19, the patient was discharged home where she remains in self-isolation and is improving.

Once the positive test was confirmed, the health unit began the process of contact tracing to determine who might have been exposed to the woman. The EOHU’s investigation determined that the positive student attended only one class at St. Lawrence College after returning from New York. This was on March 10, the day after her return. She also attended a group meeting with three people on this same date. At that time, she had no respiratory symptoms.

Out of an abundance of caution, the EOHU identified four potential close contacts of the woman, who are now being monitored and are self-isolating. One is a contact from the class the woman attended, and the other three are the students who were part of the group meeting.

The woman developed mild symptoms of cough as well as generalized aches and pain. On March 12, she presented herself to the emergency department at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria. EOHU says The hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including infection control, testing, and assessment.

Late in the afternoon on March 14, the test came back confirming that the woman had COVID-19.

To date this is the only positive COVID-19 case in the EOHU region.

Beyond these contacts, EOHU determined there was no threat to the rest of the campus, including residences. St. Lawrence College has made the decision to close the campus.

According to the EOHU statement on Mar. 15: “The EOHU does not feel that the College was at risk because of this single positive case, since we have been diligent in tracking down the contacts of this case, and her exposure was limited. However, we do support the closing of the campus as part of our collective social distancing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in general.” For more information about COVID-19, please consult and Ontario’s website at, where you’ll find a new self-assessment tool.