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As spread of COVID-19 slows, health officials continue to urge caution

There have been just a couple of new cases each day, and no additional fatalities this week, indicating the spread of the coronavirus continues to slow in Waterloo Region.

There have now been 1,099 cases of COVID-19 since late February, 113 of which have been fatal, Public Health officials reported in a video briefing this morning.

“The signs remain attentively positive, but delicate,” said acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, noting her department will be providing fewer regular updates to reflect the situation.

That said, there’s a possibility the number of reported cases will increase in conjunction with more testing, including of those who are asymptomatic. Currently, about 6.1 per cent of those tested have been positive for the virus.

The province’s expansion of testing has yet to filter through the region’s numbers, though increases could begin to show in the coming week or so. Officials will also be keeping an eye on what happens as the reopening of the economy moves into a broader phase two.

Under such circumstances, it’s normal for residents to feel some anxiety, said Wang.

“There are a few things we can do to help manage our stress: taking care of ourselves; staying connected with friends and family; eating well; staying active; and trying to get enough sleep,” she said. “Taking breaks from the news and social media. Being mindful of information overload and seeking information from reliable and trusted sources.”

In that vein, it’s important to focus on those things over which we have some control, Wang added, a list that includes physical distancing, wearing masks and hygiene measures such as hand-washing and avoiding touching our faces.

Wearing masks is a particularly good option for transit riders as the region looks to get bus service back to something closer to normal.

As of Monday, Grand River Transit will be reinstating boarding from the front end of buses, along with restoring fares. Routes may still be reduced, but are on track to a new normal, said Mike Murray, the region’s chief administrative officer.

“It’s a dynamic and evolving thing as ridership climbs back up service will climb up in lockstep.”

As part of the briefing, regional Chair Karen Redman said she is proud of the steps the Region of Waterloo has taken during the global pandemic.

“I truly believe everyone in Waterloo Region wants to do the right thing and keep each other safe. Thanks to you, our numbers are encouraging.”

Redman also emphasized residents have plenty of avenues for seeking help through the crisis, pointing to the likes of  Family Compass WR, a “great resource for families during COVID-19.” Community groups throughout the region are connecting citizens to community-based supports for family and children, from food banks to mental health experts.

Although things have been looking up, Wang reminded residents the recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

“Let’s continue to take care of each other our path forward needs to remain slow and measured because moving slowly is ultimately the fastest way. Where we go from here will largely depend on the actions all of us take as a community.”

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health continues to keep their numbers low, with only a total of 382  to date. Of those cases, 270  have been resolved showing a recovery rate of 71 per cent. There have been 35 deaths in the catchment area.

The Ministry of Health reports 27,210 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the previous day. There have been 2,230 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of 8.2 per cent. The ministry reports 20,983cases (77.1 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 88,845 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 6,918 related deaths, a mortality rate of 7.8 per cent.

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