Having dropped off, instances of new coronavirus cases in the region are trending upwards, likely the result of increased testing. The blip was expected by Public Health officials.
“After days of low numbers of new cases, we saw a bit of an increase since yesterday. This is what I thought might happen due to the increased testing volumes we’ve seen lately,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s acting medical officer of health, in a video briefing on Tuesday.
The number of new cases remains well below the daily peaks seen in mid-April, with totals hitting 1,138 positive cases, 171 of which are active.
Over the past couple of weeks, the decline in cases has been reasonably reassuring that measures we’ve taken here in the community have worked, she noted. However, increased testing and reopening of the economy are factors in this week’s jump. There are now outbreaks being detected in workplace settings, information Public Health is breaking down on its online COVID-19 dashboard.
“As more workers return to work and testing continues to broaden, we will detect more cases among workers,” said Wang.
Currently, workplace outbreaks have been divided into two categories: food processing and manufacturing/industrial. For food processing, there are 105 cases, 95 of which are a result of the Conestoga Meat Packers outbreak. The location of the other 10 cases has not been released at this point to ensure the privacy of the organization, the same with the five cases at the manufacturing/industrial location. These numbers are to be updated twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays, part of a scaled-down coverage of the pandemic.
Testing levels have increased to 19,885, of which 1,138 people have tested positive for the virus – 852 of the cases have now been resolved, and there have been 114 deaths associated with the virus. The region also has nine long term care facilities and retirement homes with active outbreaks. Of those homes, Forest Heights Revera remains the hardest hit, with 175 residents infected as well as 69 staff. Currently, the outbreak at that Kitchener facility has taken the lives of 51 people. The provincial government this week appointed St. Mary’s Hospital to take over management of that facility for at least the next three months.
Along with increased testing, officials expect there might be an increase in community cases of COVID-19 following Wednesday’s planned march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, a reaction to the mass protests in the U.S. in response to the killing by police in Minneapolis of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.
The situation, which has seen protests in the States spread worldwide, was addressed by regional Chair Karen Redman.
“We at the region are saddened by the global chaos, loss of life, pain and suffering of all those impacted by the events happening south of the border,” she said, noting there is a need locally to challenge and stop systemic racism and all forms of discrimination.
While citizens have the right to peaceful assembly and protest, doing so during a global pandemic may be a problem as people gather in close proximity, Redman added. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the number of cases jumped over the next couple of weeks, for instance.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health continues to keep their numbers low, with a total of 394 to date. Of those cases, 279 have been resolved showing a recovery rate of 70.8 per cent. There have been 35 deaths in the catchment area.
The Ministry of Health reports 29,047 cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, an increase of 1.2 per cent over the previous day. There have been 2,312 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of eight per cent. The ministry reports 22,811 cases (78.5 per cent) have been resolved.
Wednesday’s numbers from Health Canada show 92,732 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 7,414 related deaths.