The scientific director with Ontario’s Science Table, who’s been advising the Ford government on the COVID-19 pandemic, says the prominence of COVID-19 variants has left little alternative for Ontario in terms of more strict lockdown measures.
On Friday, Ontario set another single-day record of COVID-19 cases, 4,812, surpassing the previous record of 4,736 which was set on Thursday.
Health officials suggested the only way to flatten the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is a six-week stay-at-home order with at least 100,000 doses of vaccine administered a day.
Doug Ford’s announcement Friday which extended the four week lockdown to six also increased police powers, restricted outdoor gatherings and shut down non-essential construction.
Dr. Peter Juni told Global News everything now is about “blunt” measures, since contact tracing cases is difficult with such a rapid spread of the variants.
“That’s the problem. If you see it right now, all the tests and trace systems are just completely out. You know, you can’t do that anymore,” said Juni.
“Blunt measures is stop everything down inside that you possibly can and to make sure that nobody has contact with anybody else outside of their own household.”
On Friday, Hamilton public health reported 88 new variant cases, bringing the city’s total number of identified cases to 1,578. However, only 26 of the positive tests have confirmed the lineage of the viruses to one of three that are being tracked in Ontario.
The city says 23 people have been confirmed to have contracted the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in the U.K.), two with P.1 (first detected in Brazil) and the B.1.351 variant (first detected in South Africa)
Juni says with those variants 40 to 60 per cent more transmissible than the original coronavirus, the province needs to take bigger steps that include the closing of congregate work settings like factories, plants and distribution centres which have largely continued to operate amid recent lockdowns.
“The point is now we just need to be very smart with distinguishing, really distinguishing between what is essential and what is not essential,” Juni said.
“I’m sorry to say, a construction place out there that it’s not directly related to a hospital is not essential, period.”
Juni goes on to say the province will likely not be able to vaccinate its way out of the third wave, but suggests residents should get whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available and not worry about which vaccine is the best one to take.
“If you can get a vaccine, don’t hesitate,” said Juni.
Hamilton clinics have administered 145,321 COVID-19 vaccines as of Thursday, with close to 61,000 administered through the fixed site at Hamilton Health Sciences.
The clinic at St. Joe’s has now administered about 33,000 doses, 22,000 of which have been through mobile clinics, 16,000 with the First Ontario site, 8,000 at pharmacies, and around 5,000 at primary care clinics.
Hamilton reports 247 new COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths
Hamilton has a new daily high for COVID-19 cases amid the pandemic, reporting 247 cases on Friday.
Public health also recorded two more deaths tied to residents that had COVID-19. The deceased include one person in their 70s and another in their 60s.
Hamilton has had 343 total virus-related deaths since the pandemic began in 2020. Over 97.6 per cent of the city’s deaths have been people over the age of 60.
Active cases are up day over day by 117 to 1,309.
The city’s seven-day average of new cases is up again on Friday to 155.
The weekly case rate is at 181 per 100,000 people as of Thursday.
Public health reported five new outbreaks on April 15 at two elementary schools, a group home, workplace and a hospital.
The largest of the new surges is at the Hamilton General hospital in its 4 West inpatient unit which has eight cases, all patients.
Outbreaks at JNE Group’s fabrication unit in the industrial sector, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic and the Boys and Girls Club at Strathcona school involve just two cases each.
The outbreak at the Eaglewood place group home involves just a single case with a worker.
Seven outbreaks were declared over on Thursday at four schools, two workplaces and a senior’s home.
The largest of the outbreaks were at Jayne Industries in Stoney Creek which had 17 cases, while the outbreak at Bellstone Christian School on Mount Hope accounted for 10 total cases over nine days.
There are now 12 outbreaks involving 105 cases at workplaces in the city. The largest is at Connon Nurseries in Waterdown, which now has 30 coronavirus cases.
Seven Hamilton schools are experiencing outbreaks, with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) accounting for three and the Catholic board (HWCDSB) with four.
There are 28 cases in the public schools that are in current outbreaks.
The city’s 37 ongoing outbreaks as of April 16 account for just over 250 coronavirus cases.
There have now been 14,985 total coronavirus cases locally since the pandemic began last year.
As of April 16, only about 18 per cent of the Hamilton’s active COVID-19 cases are among those aged 60 or over. More than 67 per cent are in people aged 50 and under while residents under 30 represent 39 per cent of ongoing cases.