COVID-fatigue is leading to a high rate of close contacts and rising local case counts, according to Grey Bruce’s medical officer of health.
Dr. Ian Arra said the pandemic-high 500 active close contacts his contact management team followed last week represented about half the outfit’s total capacity.
Tuesday, that figure was down to 400 high-risk contacts as three new COVID-19 cases were reported in Grey-Bruce, one each in Hanover, Chatsworth and Grey Highlands.
“Over the past 15 days we’ve seen the average number of cases increase to around seven to eight per day, but the alarming part is the number of high-risk contacts per case,” Arra said.
Arra said the new provincewide restrictions and ongoing vaccination effort should help numbers trend in a more positive direction in the coming weeks. However, those “positive variables” are battling against more highly transmissible variants of concern and varying degrees of public complacency.
“We need to ensure people do their best during this last stretch,” Arra said. “I am optimistic this lockdown will be helpful and the public will push in this last push, but we really need to see these numbers go down before we can say we’ve managed the third wave.”
There were 63 active COVID-19 cases confirmed in Grey-Bruce Tuesday including 21 cases involving variants of concern. The health unit’s daily report compiles data up to 11:59 p.m. the preceding day.
Two people with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized in Grey-Bruce while two more people with Grey-Bruce addresses are hospitalized outside of the region. Arra said none of the people hospitalized have cases involving a variant of concern.
Four Grey-Bruce residents have died from the pandemic virus, but the health unit specified Tuesday that one of those individuals acquired the infection outside of the region and was treated elsewhere as well.
In that case, as well as recent cases in which people have been referred both to and away from the Grey Bruce Health Unit, the data reflects a COVID-19 patient who has more than one residence and is either living at their secondary home outside of the area or, in contrast, choosing to isolate in Grey-Bruce in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading to family members at their primary residence, Arra said.
To date, 871 people in Grey-Bruce have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 84 health care workers. Of those, 804 cases are now considered resolved.
A COVID-19 outbreak at the Owen Sound Hospital remains the only ongoing declared outbreak in the region. Arra said no new developments in the outbreak have transpired in the past week and it’s expected to resolve in the coming days.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit has confirmed a case of COVID-19 associated with Beaver Valley Community School in Thornbury.
According to a news release distributed Tuesday, an outbreak has not been declared at the school and no bus routes are involved with this specific case.
Evidence of person-to-person transmission within the school environment needs to be established for a COVID-19 outbreak to be declared.
The affected individual is working with the health unit and Bluewater District School Board to identify all others who may have been exposed both inside and outside of the school. Any cohorts identified as close contacts have been excluded from school.
Those not contacted by the Grey Bruce Health Unit need not take any additional steps including going to get tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms, the release said.
The province’s online booking portal for COVID-19 vaccine appointments will open on Wednesday to all residents older than 60.
People over 50 in “hot-spot” public health regions of Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Ottawa, Peel, Simcoe-Muskoka, Southwestern, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Windsor-Essex, and York Region will be able to book appointments as well.
Officials said they hope to begin vaccinating up to 100,000 people per day in April. Currently, the daily-dosing average sits around 72,543.
Public health units throughout Ontario reported 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.
The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases has climbed to 2,862 and the test-positivity rate was 8.9 per cent out of a pool of 37,541 lab-completed tests.
Just over 27,000 tests in Ontario have now screened positive for a genetic mutation indicating the presence of a variant of concern.
Ontario’s science advisory table is forecasting that variants account for 67 per cent of all new cases currently.
Critical Care Services Ontario said Tuesday that as of Monday there were 497 people with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units.
Eight more people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health announced students would shift to online learning effective April 7. Peel Public Health and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health unit previously announced they would use their authority to temporarily close schools to in-person learning as local case-counts climb.