Grey-Bruce has lost a fourth person to COVID-19.
A man in his 70s died while in isolation in hospital. He lived in Grey-Bruce but the Grey Bruce Health Unit didn’t say where.
“I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the gentleman who passed away,” Dr. Ian Arra, the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health, said in a news release that announced the fatality.
“Unfortunately, the news of this death is a reminder of the need for everyone to take this virus very seriously. It requires our collective actions to stem the spread of this virus. Please, stay at home and stay safe.”
All close contacts with the victim have been reviewed by health unit staff, the release said, which advised people to keep washing their hands, keep two metres apart, wear a face covering properly, avoid crowds and to favour activities outdoors over indoors.
The death comes on a day when the health unit reported seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of 23:59 p.m. Thursday there were three new cases in Owen Sound, two in Hanover and one each in Chatsworth and South Bruce Peninsula.
There have been 29 cases of one of the COVID-19 variants in Grey-Bruce, 15 of them are active.
Of the 788 confirmed cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic, 54 are active. Resolved cases number 731.
If word of another death due to COVID-19 serves as a reminder of the risk the pandemic virus presents, so does another fact. Health unit staff have identified 183 high-risk contacts related to the active cases of the disease.
In one case, there were 25 close contacts, Arra said, and others, though having fewer close contacts than that, still had more than the four or five that would be more common a year ago. Partly the numbers are larger because the criteria for a close contact were broadened to acknowledge the more contagious and dangerous COVID-19 variants of concern in the community, Arra said.
He said people are getting COVID-19 while participating in non-essential activities. He listed examples without saying which ones were actually involved in current cases. Trips for a haircut, manicure or pedicure, for make-up, or activities like dancing or gymnastics, are not essential and they carry a risk of spreading COVID-19, he said.
“These activities have the same risk. The fact that we found it in one doesn’t really mean the others are safe,” Arra said.
He decided to issue a third news release late Friday which said “Another surge of COVID-19 is imminent.”
He urged people to continue to take seriously the potential risks related to personal-care settings and group exercise activities, outbreaks in hospital and in restaurants and pubs.
“The Grey Bruce Health Unit is reminding individuals that the third wave of COVID-19 is likely. We cannot afford to let up on efforts to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 as we move toward widespread vaccine distribution.
“As we near the end, doubling-down on our efforts will continue to help ensure that the residents of Grey-Bruce remain as safe as possible. We call on workplace settings to also double down on their efforts,” the release said.
“We call on the public to put forward as much effort as possible to prevent this third wave. The initial message that kept us in a favourable position remains relevant — Watch your Distance, Wear a Mask, Wash Your Hands.”
More public health advice includes stay home as much as possible, avoid social gatherings, limit close contacts to your household, work from home is possible and avoid travel except for essential reasons.
Cover your cough, download the COVID Alert mobile app and get tested if you have COVID symptoms.
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Average daily case counts across Canada are increasing, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement Thursday. She said infection rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39 years.
CBC News reported the Public Health Agency of Canada said variants are circulating widely and so daily case counts could rise to 12,000 if Canadians merely maintain or increase the number of people they’re in contact with daily — 10,000 alone in Ontario. Now there are about 3,000 new cases a day nationally.
Ontario added 2,169 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday morning, while 1,675 cases were resolved. Since Jan. 15, 2020, the province has had 338,239 confirmed cases of the pandemic virus. To date, 314,384 cases are resolved.