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COVID: health unit says it has learned from Delta-fueled surge in Grey-Bruce

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The Grey Bruce Health Unit said it has learned some “valuable lessons” from a surge in COVID-19 cases, whihc has led to hospitalizations and deaths, brought on by recent outbreaks fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

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“We see the Delta variant is as advertised; extremely efficient and effective in its transmission, and unfortunately, similarly effective in causing severe disease leading to hospitalizations and deaths,” the health unit said in a news release.

The Delta variant was found in as many as 99 per cent of the region’s active cases at one point after first being reported as the index case leading to an outbreak at a Hanover rooming house in early June.

The Delta variant was then pegged again as the virus quickly infected more than 100 people in an outbreak at Saugeen First Nation.

The health unit said a two-pronged approach using robust case and contact management as well as an aggressive vaccine rollout is necessary to “ensure it does not return.”

COVID cases have since plateaued, the health unit said, at nine new cases per day over the past week.

On Tuesday, the health unit reported two new cases, one in Owen Sound and one in Grey Highlands.

As part of understanding the effect and transmission of the Delta variant in the region, the health unit conducted a social analysis of the surge. The analysis identified the majority of transmission was in individuals who were not fully vaccinated. The main drivers of the outbreak were private gatherings and parties, as well as the transient community and crowded housing.

Further, the outbreaks were driven by infected individuals having a high number of high-risk contacts.

Throughout the outbreaks fueled by the Delta variant, there was never any increased risk of transmission in regulated settings such as workplaces or businesses, the health unit said, after investigating more than 10 such locations.

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“Without question, vaccination is the only way to prevent a fourth wave, and our way out of this pandemic,” the news release said.

The health unit administered vaccines to approximately 70,000 people in the past four weeks.

“Although we reached the vaccine coverage target for the regular strains of COVID-19, the fact that the Delta became the dominant variant (in Grey-Bruce) means we now require a higher vaccine target of 90 per cent coverage. Therefore, we are ramping up the targeted vaccination strategy adding more pop-up and drive-through clinics,” the release said.

In total, 212,430 vaccines have been administered to date by the health unit, including 6,005 in the past seven days.

Drop-in vaccine clinics will run at community centres Wednesday in Hanover, Kincardine, Port Elgin, Ripley and The Blue Mountains. For a full weekly vaccine clinic schedule visit the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s website or call 1-833-421-1999 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As of just before midnight Monday, there were 85 active COVID-19 cases in Grey-Bruce and 274 active high-risk contacts.

Six people with COVID-19 currently being followed by the health unit are hospitalized in the region and two more have been transferred outside of Grey-Bruce.

Ten people have died with COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, seven more acquired the infection in the region but died elsewhere while one Grey-Bruce resident acquired the virus elsewhere and died while in a hospital outside of the region.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit does not include deaths until a cause is confirmed, which is why provincial and local data may differ, according to the health unit’s situation report.

To date, 2,085 people in Grey-Bruce have had confirmed COVID-19 infections including 104 in health care workers. Of those, 1,974 cases are now considered resolved.

Meanwhile, public health units throughout Ontario reported 129 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as well as five additional virus-related deaths.

Provincial data shows 127 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Ontario.

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