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Region cautious as end of latest COVID-19 lockdown is in sight

The number of COVID-19 cases is stable in Waterloo Region, but local health officials remain concerned given the pending end to the province’s stay-at-home order next week.

There were 445 active cases at midweek, down almost 100 from a week earlier, while the number of active outbreaks was down by one to 18.

There have been 14,898 positive cases in the region since the pandemic began, of which 14,181 (95.2 per cent) have been deemed resolved.

The fluctuations mean residents have to remain vigilant to help keep the levels of hospitalizations and ICU admissions in manageable figures, says Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s medical officer of health.

“We need to keep up with those measures to drive our cases lower. We need to drive them lower and lower – we do not want to emerge from lockdown at high levels. This will keep us continually at risk and under restrictions for longer,” said Wang during the weekly pandemic briefing May 7.

Last week saw some modifications to the regions’ COVID-19 dashboard regarding variants of concern.

“We implemented an update on our dashboard to align with updated provincial reporting of COVID-19 variants. What was previously classified as a case that has screened positive for a variant will now be called a case where a mutation was detected. That means that a patient associated with a variant has been detected,” she explained.

Officials will be monitoring for variant strains, noting the B.1.1.7 version is the most prevalent strain in the region.

Along with following public health measures, the region is encouraging residents to register for vaccinations.

“For the vast majority of the population, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risk of getting COVID-19. In Waterloo Region, our rates remain high. We’ve been in the red zone or shut down zones since November 2020. The best vaccine is the first vaccine you are offered,” said Wang.

Booking is available for the region’s website and through the provincial system as well.

“Your actions can and do make a difference in our community. When you follow public health precautions by reducing your mobility and limiting your close contacts you protect against transmission and infection. I appreciate that these measures have not been easy. It has been very difficult here. I am grateful for the care and support Waterloo Region residents continue to show each other thank you for continuing to do all that you can to support our community.”

In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, there were 334 active case, down from 386 a week earlier.

That catchment area’s cumulative total was 7,428, of which 6,984 (94 per cent) have been resolved. There have been a total of 110 fatalities since the pandemic began, two more than last week’s report.

The province continues to see growth in the total number of cases, with the tally now at 497,092, up some 21,000 in the past week.

There have been 8,342 deaths attributed to the virus, representing a mortality rate of 1.7 per cent. The ministry reports 457,599 cases (92.1 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 79,826 active cases nationwide, down about 3,000 from a week earlier. The cumulative total of confirmed cases now stands at 1,294,186, with 24,682 related deaths, a mortality rate of 1.9 per cent.

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