Active COVID-19 outbreaks in Huron and Perth counties have steadily declined over the past several weeks as Ontario shows signs of emerging from the worst of the pandemic’s Omicron wave.
Huron Perth public health’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 17 active outbreaks as recently as three weeks ago. On Friday, that number was down to four – two long-term care homes and two hospitals, all in Huron County.
“Indicators such as hospitalizations and ICU admissions are improving across Ontario,” Dr. Miriam Klassen, the region’s medical officer of health, said in a press release Wednesday.
Recent monitoring of absences in local schools and childcare centers has not shown any concerning trends, the health unit added, and the reopening of those settings to in-person learning in mid-January hasn’t had a significant impact on community transmission or hospitalizations.
Although “public-health measures are working,” transmission during the Omicron wave has still been high, Klassen said. Huron-Perth has reported 17 COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the year, including the latest one on Thursday, a resident affected by the ongoing outbreak at Queensway Nursing Home in Bluewater.
The total number of Huron-Perth residents killed by the virus or a related complication since the beginning of the pandemic has reached 91.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for many, and we would all like the pandemic to be over,” Klassen said. “I appreciate all of the efforts that residents have made, and continue to make, to support one another. By continuing to follow public-health measures, we can protect our health-care system, protect our most vulnerable citizens and continue the successful reopening of public settings.”
Four people from Huron-Perth were in hospital Friday due to COVID-19 or a related complication. Two of those cases were considered active.
COVID-19 infections have sent 177 people in Huron-Perth to hospital since last April. Among that group, 70 per cent were unvaccinated, health unit data show.
In Ontario, the rate of COVID-19 patients in hospital is six times higher among unvaccinated people compared to those with at least two doses of vaccine, the health unit said. The rate of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in ICU is almost 11 times higher.
There were 2,907 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Ontario on Friday, a decline from the 3,201 new cases reported Thursday.
Ontario also reported 50 new deaths, with two additional fatalities due to a data cleanup.
There are 1,829 people in hospital, a drop of 69 patients from the previous report, with 435 of them in ICU and 279 people on a ventilator with COVID-19.
Of the 435 in ICU, 80 per cent were admitted because they have COVID, and the remainder were admitted for other reasons but had tested positive, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Friday morning.
On Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said Ontario’s Omicron peak is behind us. Provincial public health officials will be monitoring the numbers over the weekend, and Moore expects to make recommendations to the government on public-health measures such as masking and vaccine passports next week, along with reconsidering the timeline for reopening.
Ontario reported that 20,936 tests were completed on Thursday. The positivity rate was 11.7 per cent.
-With files from Postmedia News and the Canadian Press