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Region coronavirus cases top 1,000, fatalities reach 112

The increase in testing and wider processing of results has contributed to a higher number of confirmed cases in Waterloo Region. As of Wednesday, 1,049 confirmed cases, with 112 associated fatalities.

The Public Health department last week expected a spike of 3,000 test results over the weekend, and the actual number was 3,487, bringing the regional total to 14,257 tests thus far in the COVID-19 situation.

The influence of increased testing saw a surge of cases at Breslau’s Conestoga Meat Packers plant, for instance, where 88 cases have now been confirmed, up from 77 on Friday before the long weekend.

“There hasn’t been a change in terms of our overall assessment. We expected more tests would be coming in. The importance is as we receive those results, we continue to assess … Conestoga Meats has a number of cases that are likely not acquired at the plant itself in addition to [ones that were]. We’ve seen a large number of positive cases come in, and now we are seeing a slowdown in those positive cases,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s acting medical officer of health, in a video briefing Tuesday (May 19).

While the province loosened some coronavirus-related restrictions over the weekend, local officials say some residents weren’t adhering to safety precautions still in effect.

“I was somewhat disappointed to hear examples of residents not following physical distancing measures over the long weekend. Yes, it was the long weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, and yes, we had some nicer weather at the beginning of the weekend, but we can’t undo the good work that has gone into slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our region,” said Wang.

Mike Murray, the region’s chief administrative officer, said enforcement was stepped up over the weekend.

“Public Health, police, regional bylaw and area municipal bylaw did have officers out over the weekend. They had 200 or more site visits conducting over the weekend, most of those on Saturday,” he said. “We did see more complaints of gatherings of more than five people.”

No charges were laid over the long weekend, however.

Due to the continued loosening of the COVID-19 measures – a wider number of stores were permitted to open today, for example – Wang called on residents to wear masks in places where there are other people, as well as continue to follow security and health protection measures.

“I repeat that it is critical for residence to continue practicing measures such as physical distancing to strongly guard against a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 in our community.”

After successfully meeting the goal mandated by the province of testing all long-term care facilities, Public Health has now made its own mandate to examine all retirement homes, though such testing is not a requirement.

“It is done to get an assessment of the entire home: a one-time assessment. We do know there are outbreaks in retirement homes, I wanted to make sure this was also available for retirement homes. For the most part, when we offer it they accept it.”

When known outbreaks have been discovered through this form of testing, there may be one or two cases that come out of it, adding an outbreak centre to the region’s online list. However, “We are not generally finding many positive cases outside of those circumstances,” said Wang.

For those in the community interested in being tested if they show symptoms, there are three self-referral assessment centres now open.

Updated figures released Tuesday show Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reporting 349 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of two from the previous day. There have been 33 fatalities. Some 202 cases have been resolved, with nine patients in hospital, three in intensive care.

The Ministry of Health reports 23,384 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of 1.9 per cent over the previous day. There have been 1,919 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of 8.2 per cent. The ministry reports 17,898 cases (76.5 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 78,488 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 5,857 related deaths, a mortality rate of 7.5 per cent. Some 1,331,173 Canadians have been tested for the virus.

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