CORNWALL – COVID-19 infections increased rapidly in the past week in the region with 56 active cases reported as of August 30. Forty-eight of those cases are people who are partly or not vaccinated at all. Only two are children younger than 12 years old.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit explained that eight of the cases are elderly fully-vaccinated individuals.
“These breakthrough infections are occurring more in the elderly and it is not unexpected,” he said. “As with other vaccines, antibody levels wain and decrease with time, particularily in elderly individuals and those with chronic health conditions.”
Roumeliotis said the EOHU is starting third-dose vaccinations for those in long-term care and for at-risk populations. The province announced last week it authorized third-dose vaccinations.
Roumeliotis said that 36 of the recent cases are linked through family or activities which account for the spread of the virus. The remaining cases have no epidemiological link.
The area has a reproductive rate of 0.68 meaning every 100 new cases will create 68 new infections. Test positivity is below the provincial average at 0.8 per cent.
Local COVID-19 infections include two cases in South Dundas and one in North Dundas. Cornwall has 15 active infections, South Glengarry five, and two cases each in South Stormont, North Stormont, and North Glengarry. Of the remaining cases, 24 are in Prescott-Russell County, and three in the northern half of Akwesasne.
One person remains hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19. There are no new deaths reported.
The EOHU ended its mass-vaccination clinics on August 27, and now allow walk-in vaccinations at its six offices across the region. Vaccinations are also available at many pharmacies in the region including Seaway Valley Pharmacy in Morrisburg and Gilmer Pharmacy in Iroquois.
Revised guidelines for schools
Responding to increased case counts in Ontario due to the spread of COVID-19 variants, Roumeliotis told reporters August 30th that the EOHU and other partner health units have given new guidance recommendations to school boards.
When the provincial back-to-school guidelines were issued in early August, school sports, clubs, and more mingling of different students groups were allowed.
Roumeliotis explained that the new guidance recommended limiting group mixing and activities. He added that the limits may vary depending on case counts in specific regions.
“It will depend on levels of vaccination and on the number of cases,” he said. “They are guidance documents that the school boards will follow.”
While these are public health recommendations, Roumeliotis confirmed that he is not issuing Section 22 orders to put further limits on school activities at this time.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader