Rates of COVID-19 continue to climb in SimcoeMuskoka as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads through the region and it seems having two doses of the vaccine is not enough to stop you from contracting this variant.
“We have surpassed 20,000 cases in total since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit during a December 31 press conference. “Our tally right now is 21,487 cases. This is up 3,568 since December 22.”
The health unit reported 715 new cases reported within the previous 24 hours of the conference.
“We are at very high rates of transmission right now – much higher than we’ve ever seen in the pandemic to date, including the daily count being the highest we’ve ever had,” Dr. Gardner said. “We increased by 93 per cent from December 19 to 25 compared to the preceding week. We’ve had a greater increase in Simcoe County compared to Muskoka.”
Across the province, the numbers are even worse. The province is reporting an increase of 171 per cent compared to the previous week. That translates to 348 cases per 100,000 population.
Currently there are 4,246 active cases in the region including 27 individuals who have been hospitalized.
The rest are self-isolating at home.
The majority of the cases, around 73 per cent, include people who have been vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine.
Dr. Gardner said this demonstrates the fact the omicron COVID cases reported as “very high rate of transmission” variant of the virus “does not show a high vaccine effeciveness for two doses of vaccine – you really need a third dose booster to get protection against transmission.”
So far it has not been determined how many people in hospital are there because of previous variants.
The impact of the omicron variant on hospitals has not yet been determined.
Two deaths have been reported over the past week. This brings the total number of deaths in the region to 288.
There is a high number of outbreaks involving children. A third of the outbreaks involved school settings, both elementary and high schools.
Congregate settings also continue to have a high number of outbreaks. These include shelters, group homes, a hospital, child care centres, and retirement homes.
Across the province, localized hot spots for the virus include Halton Region, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, and Hamilton.
“Omicron is now the dominant variant for new cases, over 90 per cent of new caes are due to omicron,” Dr. Gardner said. “When we look at the profile of those cases, we find they tend to be younger. The majority are under the age of 60.”
Hospitals continue to be challenged with an increase in emergency room visits, a reduced ability to transfer patients back to long-term care facilities, and a challenge with available human resources. accination of children ages five to 11 years of age has now become a priority. It is now thought that there are more COVID cases than have been reported as the numbers are exceeding the ability of the system to test people.
Dr. Gardner urges people to get immunized as well as maintain current methods of reducing transmission by reducing your social circle, practising social distancing and continuing to wear a mask in public.
Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times