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Downward trend of COVID cases as businesses reopen

The downward trend in active COVID-19 cases in Waterloo Region continues, with some 1,600 reported at midweek, down from 2,400 a week earlier.

Public health officials are monitoring outbreaks at 64 locations, down from 70.

Medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang noted the number of deaths may rise, as a downward trend would lag the COVID numbers. The region reports there have been 361 fatalities since the pandemic began, up 19 in the past week.

“We are seeing signs of a plateau in the surge of Omicron cases. The percentage of positivity in COVID-19 tests is slowly declining. Unfortunately, due to the extent in which Omicron has spread, we are now seeing a growing number of reported deaths in our community,” she said last Friday during the region’s weekly pandemic briefing.

“While the risk of serious outcomes and deaths remains greatest among the unvaccinated, a majority of deaths reported will be among the vaccinated as a large majority of the population have had two doses at least already, especially those in the older age groups. The older age groups are also at the greatest risk of severe outcomes, including death. Sadly, we have lost many of our loved ones to this pandemic. “

Vickie Murray, director of pharmacy of Grand River and St. Mary’s hospitals, is ramping up vaccinations for children and rural communities over the coming month.

“A current focus right now is to increase our children’s vaccination rates. Vaccinating children and youth will provide them with a strong level of protection against COVID-19 and its variants, keep schools safer and open and stop the spread of the virus. This will protect other family members too such as those under 5 years old who can’t get vaccinated yet and more vulnerable, elderly individuals.”

Hourglass HR will be running vaccine clinics for the region, with the first one planned for the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira February 7 to 9. The second clinic will be at North Dumfries community complex from February 10 to 12.

Murray said Wellesley and Wilmot will get their own vaccination clinics in the coming days.

“We are excited to be able to provide more opportunities for our rural communities to access their first, second or third dose. I would like to encourage all rural residents who haven’t been able to get their vaccine yet to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Some 88.2 per cent of eligible residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 83.2 per cent having received at least two.

The lower number of active cases comes as businesses reopen this week after the province began easing the latest lockdown. Wang urged residents to follow public health requirements as they go back to normal activities such as indoor dining or going out to movie theatres.

“Reopening cautiously in a stepwise manner will help protect our healthcare system, help keep our schools open and help keep us moving forward. For the coming weeks I strongly advise residents to be cautious, please limit your non-essential contacts, optimize the fit and filtration of your mask, and wear it when around those outside your household. Avoid crowded places and poorly ventilated spaces and stay at home if you are sick. Prevention is the best approach. If you are not fully immunized, please get your first, second or third dose now. We need to continue our efforts to blunt the severity of the Omicron wave so the province can safely and gradually reopen. We will get through this together, thank you for all that you’re doing,” said Wang.

As with the region, the number of cases has dropped in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, with 590 active cases, down from 815 seven days earlier. There have been 141 fatalities associated with the virus, five in the past week.

Public health there reports 85 per cent of eligible residents have been fully inoculated, with 48.4 having had a booster shot.

The province continues to see growth in the total number of cases, with the tally now at 1,036,000, of which 981,800 have been resolved (94.8 per cent). There have been some 11,504 deaths since the pandemic began, representing a mortality rate of 1.1 per cent.

Some 3,000 people are currently hospitalized in Ontario, 568 in ICU.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 209,000 active cases nationwide, down from 270,000. The cumulative total of confirmed cases now stands at 3,055,826, with 33,873 related deaths, a mortality rate of 1.1 per cent. Nationally, 83.8 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 77.9 per cent fully vaccinated.

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