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Health officials brace for spike

The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region remain below provincial averages, but health officials remain wary of spikes during the second wave of the pandemic.

“In terms of overall trends, at this time, our growth has not accelerated at the same pace as some other areas in Ontario. Similar to other mid-sized regions in Ontario, however, we remain in a precarious state in Waterloo Region,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr.Hsiu-Li Wang at Tuesday’s weekly coronavirus update.

Provincial projections of 1,000 diagnoses daily in mid-October equates to nearly 40 new cases daily in this region. Actual numbers have been lower, with 21 being the highest daily total in the past week.

Overall, there were 119 active cases at midweek, down from 129 a week earlier. The total number of people infected since the outbreak began stands at 1,914, of which 1,675 (88 per cent) have been resolved.

There are nine sites in the region experiencing outbreaks, including three long-term care and retirement homes.

“We have declared a new outbreak at Wilfrid Laurier University in residence, as well as off campus,” said Wang. “We have a total of seven cases to date which are linked, for whom three confirmed and one probable reside at the Conrad Hall residence, and three of which are confirmed reside off campus. They are considered linked because all seven likely acquired their infection participating in one of multiple study groups held off campus. All cases are being followed up by public health.

“High risk contacts are being advised that they need to self-isolate and get tested,” she added, noting two floors at an on-campus residence are involved. “These two floors have been declared an outbreak and students living on these floors are being asked to self-isolate and will be tested. Of note, we are not publicly identified the two floors to a risk of identification of the individual cases, but all students who are impacted are being directly informed by the university. Public health will also be following up directly with them individually.

To help combat the anticipated uptick in cases, the region is now increasing the frequency of COVID-19 updates, adding a second on Fridays, and reiterating the importance of following public health measures, including social distancing, mask-wearing and washing/sanitizing hands and surfaces.

In neighbouring Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, the numbers remain lower. At midweek, the health unit reported 50 active cases of the coronavirus, two more than a week earlier, bringing the cumulative total to 741, of which 651 (87.9 per cent) have been deemed resolved.

The province is still dealing with a spike as the total number jumped more than 5,000 to 60,692 in the past seven days. There have been 3,017 deaths attributed to the virus – 30 additional fatalities in a week – representing a mortality rate of five per cent. The ministry reports 51,729 cases (85.2 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 19,741 active cases, bringing the total to 186,881 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, a spike of some 15,000 in the past week, with 9,954  related deaths, a mortality rate of 5.3 per cent.

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