COVID: Eighteen new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday, variants a lasting concern

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The last leg of the COVID-19 pandemic has been referred to as a race between variants and vaccines, and the variants have jumped out to a large lead.

In Grey-Bruce, a little over 20 per cent of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic now involve a variant of concern.

Variants first emerged in Grey-Bruce a little over two months ago.

“They are very effective in transmission. It is a gamechanger. The younger age of deaths as we’ve heard provincially, again, is a concerning variable and something we didn’t see before,” said Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health.

The country’s vaccination effort will eventually outpace the variant-fuelled third wave, but until that happens there won’t be much room for comfort.

“We do need to stay the course until the vaccine is in arms,” Arra said.

Numbers in Grey-Bruce have been trending in the right direction since the health unit announced a critical threshold April 14, and with nearly a month left of a provincially mandated lockdown, they’re likely to stay the course. Arra predicted the region should head back to a manageable baseline average of five new cases per day.


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However, low case counts will not necessarily correlate to a reentering of the green or yellow zone in the province’s reopening framework when the time comes.

“We know hospital capacity is going to be challenged because of transfers, so I truly don’t know how it’s going to be calculated,” Arra said.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday including five in South Bruce Peninsula.

Three cases were reported in Owen Sound, three in Southgate, two in Arran-Elderslie, and single cases in each Georgian Bluffs, Grey Highlands, Meaford, and West Grey. One case was of unspecified origin.

Arra said higher-than-average case counts are to be expected as close contacts from the mid-April surge in Grey-Bruce become active cases.

There are currently 80 active and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the two counties including 23 involving a variant of concern.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but in general the numbers are heading to a manageable baseline,” Arra said. “I have confidence we’re going to be in a good standing.”

The health unit is following 293 active high-risk contacts.

Three COVID-19 patients being followed by the health unit are hospitalized locally and one is hospitalized outside of the region. Five patients have been transferred to local hospitals from other health units.

To date, the Grey Bruce Health Unit has confirmed 1,188 cases of COVID-19 including 93 in health care workers. Of those, 1,103 are now considered resolved.


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Arra said the COVID-19 outbreak at Queen of Hearts Nursery School in Owen Sound was cleared by the Grey Bruce Health Unit Tuesday.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has now administered 57,131 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccines including 8,109 in the past seven days.

Workers in Ontario impacted by COVID-19 will soon be able to access three paid sick days.

Ontario unveiled its COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Program, which will be administered by the WSIB and reimburse employee wages 100 per cent up to $200 a day.

The program applies to all workers who are sick, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, need to get vaccinated, or have COVID-19-related mental health issues.

The program will be retroactive to April 19 and expires on September 25. It’s expected to cost between $750 million and $1.5 billion

Ontario’s Ministry of Health is allowing hospitals to transfer non-urgent patients waiting for a long-term care bed to any nursing home, without their consent, to free up beds for patients requiring urgent care.

Health Minister Christine Elliott made the announcement Wednesday at a news conference. Elliott said hundreds of patients are currently in hospitals throughout the province waiting to be discharged to a long-term care home.

The temporary emergency order would provide hospitals more flexibility to transfer patients whose doctors have determined no longer require hospital care, Elliott said.

Any moves would be temporary, Elliott said, and efforts would be made to vaccinate patients and keep them close to their families.

The transfer co-payment in such a scenario would be waived.

Public health units throughout Ontario reported 3,480 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 24 new deaths.

Provincial data showed there were 2,281 patients with COVID-19 at Ontario hospitals Wednesday including 877 in intensive care units and 605 needing ventilators.

As of 8 p.m. yesterday, 4,907,203 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

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