‘Welcome to the fifth wave’ in Haldimand-Norfolk, medical officer says

·2 min read

With COVID-19 cases and deaths again on the rise in Haldimand-Norfolk, the region’s top doctor has a sobering message for the community.

“Welcome to the fifth wave,” said acting medical officer of health Dr. Matt Strauss at a recent meeting of the local board of health.

Four residents have died of COVID-19 in the past three weeks, including the latest death announced Monday morning.

That brings the COVID-19 death toll in Haldimand-Norfolk to 52.

On average, the region is adding 10 new cases per day, with the active case count sitting at 97 on Monday.

That is more than double the number of active cases in the region two weeks ago.

“The bad news is I think this could be a significant wave with the pace that the cases are going right now,” Strauss told the health board, noting this wave mirrors the surge seen last winter as the cold drove people indoors.

But, he added, there is one major difference this year — vaccines.

“Although cases are likely to go up, perhaps at times at a startling rate, those of us who are vaccinated are very well protected against an unfortunate outcome,” Strauss said.

As of Monday, 84.5 per cent of Haldimand-Norfolk residents 12 and over were fully vaccinated, with 12.5 per cent unvaccinated and three per cent waiting for a second dose.

The region is seeing new cases clustered in rural areas with lower vaccination rates, such as Dunnville, Langton and Delhi.

Strauss continues to worry about a “lag” in vaccination among residents in their 40s, 50s and 60s, saying anyone in that high-risk cohort waiting to see how the vaccine would pan out should act now.

“Now is the time to go get vaccinated,” Strauss said. “We now have six months of data in Ontario. We have six months of experience.”

According to the health unit, three of the four residents who recently died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated, while the fourth person was fully vaccinated and had “severe underlying health conditions.”

The health unit does not release the age, gender or hometown of COVID-19 fatalities, saying that information could identify the deceased.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett echoed Strauss’s call for residents to trust the science and get the shot, adding the rise in cases “is not a cause for panic” for those protected by the vaccine.

“If you are vaccinated and get infected, your symptoms should be milder and your risk of needing to be hospitalized or in the ICU will be much less,” Barrett said in an emailed statement.

A COVID-19 outbreak continues at Haldimand War Memorial Hospital in Dunnville, where eight employees and at least nine patients have tested positive.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting