Ontario’s Science Advisory Board shows levels of COVID-19 in wastewater data are steadily declining in all but northern regions of the province.
Dr Peter Juni, scientific director of the science table, said the daily number of cases changed late last year when eligibility for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing was changed to n Only be offered to people living or working in high-risk environments, such as hospitals or long-term care facilities.
To get an idea of what’s going on with COVID-19 cases, scientists are looking to see the concentration of viral material in sewage samples to assess whether the number of cases is increasing or decreasing, said Juni, a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. .
“We saw a peak around January 5 in the province of Ontario and now a sustained decline in concentration,” he said.
“This will likely continue on average, for the province, through the next stages of reopening.”
Change in the last 10 days
However, Juni says it’s a different story in northern Ontario.
“After peaking around January 5, we had a decrease, and now in the last 10 days or so we’ve started to see an increase again, which aligns relatively well with the situation you’re seeing in your hospitals.”
Juni said overall COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining across the province, but in Northern Ontario it has been “less pronounced” than in other parts of the province.
“It just looks like parts of the north seem to be a bit more challenged, which is pretty consistent with what we’re seeing when we look at case numbers and rates,” he said.
“In the province, Northwestern, Porcupine, Thunder Bay, Algoma and Sudbury and the districts are the places with the highest rates per 100,000 population right now.”
Additional precautions recommended as restrictions ease
Juni said he doesn’t know why the number of cases remains high in parts of northern Ontario.
“What definitely helps is that you came relatively late into the Omicron wave and didn’t have much to start with,” he said.
“What we currently estimate is that since the Omicron wave began, approximately four million people have been infected in Ontario. When I look at the curve…you see your curve starts to rise later than other parts of the province. just be that there are even fewer people contributing to the wall of immunity through infection.”
Juni said with restrictions starting to ease on Thursday, everyone needs to take extra precautions, especially people living in northern Ontario.
“Right now, what we know is that taking into account age and sex… someone who has had three doses of a vaccine is about 50 times less likely to die or end up in the intensive care [hospital intensive care unit] compared to someone who is not vaccinated,” he said.
“We just have to keep masking and potentially reconsidering at least in some areas if this is the right move to lift the capacity limit, locally. It’s just important that everyone exercise caution.”
‘We’re waiting for you’
All Northern Ontario public health units continue to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Northwestern Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon said vaccination has been good in his district.
“Almost 75% of people aged 50 and over have received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
“Our vaccination rates are among the highest in the province, which has helped protect our most vulnerable residents and our healthcare system.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts, said starting Friday, children ages 12 to 17 will be able to get their booster shots.
She said it’s important that this age group and others get a booster shot.
“We have approximately 50,000 people in our service area who are currently eligible for their booster dose but have not yet come forward,” she said.
“Come and get your dose. We have capacity, we have vaccines. We are waiting for you.”