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Region warns about increase in cases as holidays approach

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Waterloo Region, raising concerns for public health officials as we head into the holiday season. Still, there are no plans to alter course at this point.

“We’ve seen some increases to cases and outbreaks, but overall trends remain stable. The increases are not unexpected with colder temperatures and more people spending time indoors,” said Dr. Julie Emili, the region’s associate medical officer of health, during the weekly pandemic briefing November 5.

At midweek, the region reported 176 active cases, up from 132 a week earlier. A total of 305 people have succumbed to the disease since the pandemic first began, one in the past week.

Officials continue to push for residents to get vaccinated, including an expanded booster-shot program. Some 91.4 per cent of residents over the age of 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 88.4 per cent fully immunized. Public health officials are pushing for at least 90 per cent of residents to receive both jabs, and to continue to observe precautions.

The region has reinstated appointments for second and third doses, with walk-ins available for first jabs. The region is also winding down its mobile vaccination bus, which made one of its last stops in Elmira on Monday. Vaccine task force lead Vickie Murray noted the number of people using the mobile clinics has been winding down with the colder weather, but redeploying the bus remains an option if needed.

“I want to encourage those eligible for a third dose to book an appointment now as we expect the clinics to get busier later in November and in December. Third doses are being offered to increase protection, prevent infection and outbreaks in vulnerable populations. It is essential to keep COVID rates low to protect each other and also keep our schools and our community open,” said Murray.

“COVID vaccine is saving lives, we have the resources in place here in Waterloo Region to provide the vaccine to residents.”

Officials have also stepped up enforcement of public health measures, with some hefty fines levied on students in Waterloo.

“There are 10 enforcement actions to report since the last update. Wilfrid Laurier University issued five tickets for gathering in a residence on Laurier property. City of Waterloo bylaw also issued five tickets for gathering at private residences, each of these tickets carry a fine of over $880,” said regional Chair Karen Redman during the update.

There are currently 11 active outbreaks in the region, five in schools, four in workplaces, one in a long-term care facility and another in a post-secondary setting. The outbreak at Junior Sports Bar and Grill in Cambridge, which saw eight cases, has been declared over.

As with the region, the number of cases is spiking upward in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, with 71 active cases at midweek, up from last week’s 25. There have been 127 fatalities associated with the virus.

Public health there reports 88.5 per cent of eligible residents has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 86.1 per cent fully inoculated.

The province continues to see growth in the total number of cases, with the tally now at 604,000, up about 3,500 in the past week.

There have been 9,903 deaths attributed to the virus – up 22 over the week before – representing a mortality rate of 1.6 per cent. The ministry reports 590,227 cases (97.7 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 23,841 active cases nationwide, unchanged from a week earlier. The cumulative total of confirmed cases now stands at 1,737,389, with 29,217 related deaths, a mortality rate of 1.7 per cent. Nationally, 88.4 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 84.3 per cent fully vaccinated.

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