Out from under the state of emergency and the stay-at-home order, Waterloo Region nonetheless faces ongoing restrictions. With the return of the colour-coded system, the region remains in the red, one stage short of another lockdown.
The number of active cases has dropped from the post-holiday heights, but have levelled off somewhat. Still, at midweek, there were 345 active cases, down from more than 400 a week earlier.
Although there are some clear positives in terms of statistics from the most recent 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. At midweek, there were 22 individuals hospitalized, a third less than last week.
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 a 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 were contacted.
The region had been informed last week that 10 new cases had screened positive for a variant but have yet to be confirmed as positive, adding to the four previous screens. 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.”
The region is currently monitoring outbreaks at 27 locations, 12 of them at long-term care and retirement homes, including Derbecker’s Heritage House in St. Jacobs, where 17 cases – 12 among residents, five among staff – have been reported.
In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, there were 167 active cases at midweek, down from 181 a week earlier. That catchment area’s cumulative total was 4,512, of which 4,250 (94.2 per cent) have been resolved. There have been a total of 95 fatalities since the pandemic began, increase of six in the past week.
The province is seeing some slowing of cases, with the total now at 287,736, an increase of some 7,000 in the past week.
There have been 6,719 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of 2.3 per cent. The ministry reports 269,413 cases (93.6 per cent) have been resolved.
The latest numbers from Health Canada show 35,669 active cases, a decrease of some 11,000 in the past week. The cumulative total of confirmed cases now stands at 831,577, with 21,397 related deaths, a mortality rate of 2.6 per cent.