Region of Waterloo Public Health expects to see local COVID-19 testing numbers rise dramatically this weekend as it rolls out a new feature on its online dashboard.
Acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang expects a surge of 3,000 to the 10,770 already recorded, bringing the region closer to its 15,000 milestone.
“We are one of the health units that tracks and reports testing numbers on our public health dashboard. Our numbers are provided by multiple sources, including our testing partners, and from long-term care (LTC) and retirement homes (RH), this takes time and effort to put together,” she explained in a video briefing this morning (Friday).
As part of data reconciliation, Public Health examines test numbers and gathering numbers from clinical testing partners, when the dashboard refreshes tomorrow morning it will show this significant increase.
The Region of Waterloo reached its goal of whole-home testing for long-term care and similar facilities. Upon completion, they’ll be announcing test results for the general public, with five assessment centres now prepared to handle requests in the region. The province’s Telehealth virtual assessment centre will help streamline individuals in the community expressing an interest in getting tested due to any symptoms they may have, said Wang.
Although testing will be available in the coming days to the general public, test themselves don’t reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, she added.
“Testing is a monitoring tool that allows us to identify the virus in our community and manage positive cases accordingly; it does not prevent the virus. It is critical that everyone continues to practice public health measures,” said Wang.
Public Health has made other changes to its online dashboard that now reflect “cases related to outbreaks in congregate settings in long-term care, retirement homes and group homes, as well as other outbreaks like the Conestoga Meat outbreaks and separate community cases,” she explained.
Community-spread cases are not related to these settings, deemed to have been contracted through close contact transmission from travel and other communities.
Addressing Breslau’s Conestoga Meat Packers plant directly, Wang said the operation continues to work closely with Public Health, referring and testing symptomatic workers. As of May 14, 75 employees have tested positive and 41 of the cases have been resolved.
“They have implemented a significant number of preventive measures meeting or exceeding recommendations from Public Health or the Ministry of Labour,” said Wang.
With a slow increase in positive numbers, the cases are suspected to be related to the outbreak before the reopening of the plant. They also may come from outside close-contact transmission between employees. With a high level of social interaction between employees outside of the workplace, including carpool and shared accommodations, Conestoga Meat Packers have worked to educate employees on reducing the spread of COVID-19 outside of the plant, she added.
As the province loosens restrictions, regional Chair Karen Redman reiterated the importance of following public health recommendations, noting the measures are part of the “new normal.”
“As the province begins to open up, it is important to keep up and even increase physical distancing measures. This is not the time to relax until a vaccine is developed or an effective treatment [exists]. These public health measures will be part of our everyday lives in all settings our new normal will stay, including physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a face covering,” said Redman.
As of this morning, Public Health reports 983 cases of COVID-19, with 108 fatalities, for a mortality rate of 11 per cent.
Of the positive cases, 559 have been resolved – 57 per cent.
Updated figures released Friday show Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reporting 335 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of two from the previous day. There have been 32 fatalities. Some 178 cases have been resolved, with eight patients in hospital, four in intensive care.
The Ministry of Health reports 21,922 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of two per cent over the previous day. There have been 1,825 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of 8.3 per cent. The ministry reports 16,641 cases (75.9 per cent) have been resolved. The latest numbers from Health Canada show 73,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 5,499 related deaths, a mortality rate of 7.4 per cent. Some 1,225,049 Canadians have been tested for the virus.