CORNWALL – COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in this latest wave of the pandemic are at or near its peak in the region. Fueled by the Omicron BA.5 sub-variant, which is more infectious than previous COVID-19 waves, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region is following the provincial trend of having infections begin to decrease in early August.
“We are definitely in wave seven,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU in his weekly video update.
As of the July 22 update by the EOHU, 17 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 infection being the primary reason for that admission. Two of those 17 are in intensive care.
The EOHU average for percentage of case positivity is 17.6 per cent. This level varies based on postal code prefix. Rockland (K4K) has the highest levels of positivity at 24.2 per cent. Russell (K4R) is at 22.7 per cent, while areas in the K0C postal code including Morrisburg are at 14.7 per cent. Areas in the EOHU region covered by the K0E postal code prefix are not available.
Wastewater testing in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Casselman, and Morrisburg all show slight declines in COVID-19 levels detected in wastewater. Morrisburg reported 13.4 genetic copies per millilitre of water. Casselman is over 30 gc/ml, Hawkesbury over 50gc/ml, and Cornwall has 6.7 gc/ml.
There has been one new death reported by the EOHU, increasing the region’s death toll to 235 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Roumeliotis said that local hospitals have been mostly handling the increased cases well, but hospital services have been affected due to staff being infected and unable to work.
Glengarry Memorial Hospital announced it was closing its emergency department between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily due to staffing issues.
While COVID-19 cases are high in the region, and in Ontario, vaccinations for the latest age group eligible will begin booking appointments July 28.
On July 14, Health Canada approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children age six months to four years old.
Children in that age group should receive two-doses of vaccine, spaced 56 days apart. For moderately-to-severely immunocompromised children, a three-dose series is recommended.
“With Health Canada’s approval of the vaccine, I encourage parents to book their child’s appointment as soon as they are eligible,” Roumeliotis said. “Although COVID infections are usually mild in children, there have been hospitalizations and severe infections in younger children as well. Vaccination is the best way to provide your child with protection against serious illness from COVID-19.”
Also on July 28, a second booster dose for youth age 12-to-17 will be available.
“You should consider a fourth dose, even if you are healthy,” Roumeliotis encouraged saying that vaccinations prevent serious outcomes from a COVID-19 infection.
Vaccination doses are available through the six EOHU offices in the region, and at most pharmacies.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader