Out from under the state of emergency and soon to emerge from the stay-at-home order, Waterloo Region nonetheless faces ongoing restrictions. With the return of the colour-coded system, officials here expect the area to be placed in the red zone.
The number of active cases has dropped from the post-holiday heights, but have levelled off rather than continuing to decline. There were 409 cases as of Friday, with the weekly incidence rate static at about 58 per 100,000 population.
Although there are some clear positives in terms of statics from this week’s COVID-19 update, concerns remain.
“The burden on our healthcare system however, continues to be high,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, noting there are currently 33 individuals hospitalized, with eight requiring ICU care.
The region is also monitoring increases in variants of the virus, including at a Kitchener school.
“We have identified a probable case of a variant of concern in a student at W.T. Townshend Public School,” said Wang, adding that the student was confirmed COVID-positive and close contact of another individual that had also screened positive for a variant of concern.
According to Wang, the student’s cohort has been dismissed from class, and the parents are being contacted. No outbreak has currently been declared.
The region has now been informed that 10 new cases have screened positive for a variant but have yet to be confirmed as positive, adding to the four previously done. There has only been one documented confirmed case of the UK variant.
“Seven of the total 14 cases that we have here, both the one confirmed case and the 13 screened positive, have a link to international travel,” she said.
Wang says the positive screening of variants of concern came as no surprise, with more likely to surface.
“This was not unexpected. We expect many more people to screen positive and many more cases to be confirmed due to the very significant increase in screening for variants of concern that the provincial laboratory system is now undertaking. This increase in screening is welcome. Because it is providing us a much more accurate picture of the current prevalence of variants in our region.”
Province-wide, there have been over 230 confirmed variants of concern thus far.