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Public health officials waiting for post-Christmas spike in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus cells in microscopic view. Virus from Wuhan casusing pandemic around the world. 3D render

The number of COVID-19 cases over the next week or so will indicate whether or not Waterloo Region residents followed public health regulations over the holidays.

With a two-week incubation period, the numbers lag the potential exposure periods. Fatalities are also a lagging indicator.

Regional officials did receive calls and complaints about social gatherings over the Christmas break, but how much of that will translate into new cases remains to be seen.

In the last briefing of 2020, the region noted numbers were already high in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“Overall, rates in Waterloo Region remain high but stable. There was some lower testing volume over Christmas so it is too early to say what the most recent numbers could be signaling,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang December 27.  

At midweek, there were 715 active cases in the region, bringing the cumulative total to 6,480. Public health officials are currently monitoring outbreaks at 34 locations, including 19 long-term care and retirement homes. That list includes Barnswallow Place in Elmira, where four staff were diagnosed with the virus, and the Village of Winston Park Retirment Home, where 25 residents and 26 staff members tested positive, with five deaths reported. There have now been 169 fatalities in the region related to the pandemic.

While the region remains in lockdown until at least January 23, Wang stresses that “we cannot rely on those measures alone.”   

“We also each have a role to play by staying home, avoiding social gatherings and by limiting the number of trips we make outside our homes. We are protecting family, friends, neighbors and helping Waterloo Region as a whole. If we do not give this virus the ability to spread easily from one person to another, we will start to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We can do this we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, and emerge from the province wide shut down in a better place.”

In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, there were 434 active cases at midweek. That catchment area’s cumulative total was 2,883, of which 2,400 (83.2 per cent) have been resolved. There have been a total of 49 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The province is still dealing with a spike as the total number jumped to 197,360, an increase of more than 3,100 in previous 48 hours.

There have been 4,730 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a falling mortality rate of 2.4 per cent. The ministry reports 166,790 cases (84.5 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 78,849 active cases, which brings the total to 618,646 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide since the pandemic began, with 16,233 related deaths, a mortality rate of 2.6 per cent.

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