Hamilton health official says ‘no need to panic’ as implications of new COVID-19 variant unclear

Hamilton’s director of epidemiology says there is “no need to panic” with a new COVID-19 variant and a public health investigation into two Hamilton residents who recently returned from what is considered the epicenter of the outbreak. new version of the virus.

COVID CEO Michelle Baird said it was too early to talk about the impact of the Omicron variant – the fifth and latest mutation designated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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“At this point, we’re just following the direction of the province and trying to understand what that science is,” Baird told 900 CHML’s. Good morning Hamilton.

“Certainly as we know more, at that point, we’ll see what needs to happen.”

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WHO has previously warned Omicron has a “very high” risk of infection but has yet to determine its potential impact. It is expected that the agency will have more data on whether it is more transmissible than other variants in the next few days.

“The number of people testing positive has increased in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiological studies are underway to find out if it is due to this variant. Omicron or other factors,” the WHO said in an update on Sunday.

“It remains unclear whether Omicron infection causes more severe disease than infection with other variants, including Delta.”

Hamilton Public Health is still awaiting the results of genome sequencing of two infected local residents to see if it is a new variant.

Baird said that there is no definite link to Omicron except for the fact that they returned with COVID infection from an area with a high case rate with this variant.

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“So I can’t go into specifics of each case, but I would say that they’re both in isolation and all of their contacts are also in isolation,” Baird said.

As of Tuesday, Canada has confirmed seven Omicron cases: four in Ontario and one in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

The Government of Canada is also asking the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to quickly issue the latest directives on the use of boosters in the context of the new Omicron variant.

To date, the NACI has recommended booster shots for the elderly, frontline health care workers, long-term caregivers, and other high-risk groups.

Three other African countries were added to Canada’s travel ban list on Tuesday – Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

It brings the total to ten including seven banned on Friday: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

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Canadians and permanent residents – as well as all those with the right to return to Canada – who have transited through these countries in the past two weeks will be required to quarantine, check at the airport and wait for test results before exit. .

Given the prospect of the variant likely in Hamilton, Baird said, people should still follow public health guidelines and only get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID.

“So at this point, we don’t encourage more testing. Of course, we encourage anyone to get tested if you’re not feeling well,” Baird said.

“Continue the same measures for mask wearing, physical distancing where possible, and following the good public health practices that everyone has been doing over the past 18 months.”

Hamilton reports 33 new COVID-19 cases, 3 new outbreaks

Hamilton Public Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, higher than the average number of cases seen over the past seven days.

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With a daily spike, the city’s seven-day average case rate is now 24 – up from the 21 reported on Tuesday.

The city had an overall average case rate of 19 cases per day for all of November, slightly below the 22 case per day average reported for October.

Active cases increased to 178 from the 159 reported on Tuesday.

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More than 70% of all active cases are in people under the age of 50, while 39% are under the age of 30.

The city’s positivity percentage – which represents the number of positive tests from labs – dropped slightly over the week to 2.2 percent from 2.4 percent. This is still below the provincial average of 3.1% reported on Wednesday.

The city has revealed three new school outbreaks, bringing the total number of outbreaks to strong activity in educational institutions as of December 1.

Thirty-nine of the city’s 48 cases linked to the 12 outbreaks are from schools.

The largest case was at St. Gabriel, there are 14 cases in total – one among teachers and 13 among students.

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In the past 14 days, both public boards have reported 66 cases, of which 51 are schoolchildren.

Hamilton hospitals are reporting a total of 15 COVID-19 patients as of Wednesday, more than the 14 patients reported on Tuesday.

Both St. Joe’s and Hamilton (HHS) both average less than one new hospital admission per day.

More than 83.4% 12-year-old Hamiltonians are eligible to be fully immunized

In the last week, Hamilton’s medical partners have administered more than 8,100 doses of the vaccine, with Friday recording the largest injection of the week – 2,856.

With the COVID-19 vaccine being made available to children aged five to 11, the city has seen an 82.8% increase in doses administered in the past week.

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Over the past seven days, the city has fired 14,867 shots, nearly 6,700 more than between November 17 and November 23.

The average number of injections per day for November, 1,239, surpassed the number of injections per day for the whole month of October by just under 300.

Public Health estimates that about 17% of the city’s 42,000 children, eligible for the shot, have had or are scheduled to receive an injection in the next 14 days.

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As of Sunday, 83.4% of eligible Hamiltonians over the age of 12 were fully immunized while 86.3% had received at least a single dose. The city still lags behind the provincial average, with 86.3% fully vaccinated and 90 children getting at least one dose of the vaccine.

People aged 70 to 84 years have achieved the Ministry of Health target of 90% coverage of the first and second doses. Meanwhile, Hamiltonians ages 25 to 29 represent the lowest immunization rates among eligible people in the community, just over 73.4% fully immunized.

Hamilton is behind 31 other public health units in two-dose vaccination rates.

– with files from Saba Abiz, Rachael D’Amore, Eric Stober and David Lao

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