An Ontario disease specialist says the emergence of new COVID-19 variants in Canada is like having a “pandemic within’ the pandemic.”
Dr. Timothy Sly, epidemiologist and professor at Ryerson University says the province amid the current third wave is in virtually the same position it was during the second in terms of rising daily cases.
Sly says it’s likely the contagious variants, which now are involved with more than 50 per cent of all new cases in Hamilton, will put third wave COVID-19 case numbers ahead of the second wave when the current surge is finally over.
“My prediction is that we will have a third wave that actually exceeds the second wave in terms of numbers,” said Sly.
“It’ll be a slightly different sector in the population affected.”
As of Sunday, only about 17 per cent (237) of the Hamilton’s 1,400 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.
Sly believes that’s where numbers will differ.
“The age group with the largest number of isolation’s right now is the age group, 20 to 39,” said Sly.
“If you can remember back a year ago, it was the 60 and plus people.”
The doctor believes workplaces are playing a role in that shift as public health units across the province have recently reported more episodes with the coronavirus in those spaces.
Fourteen of Hamilton’s 40 ongoing outbreaks are at workplaces with well over 100 cases reported. The largest are at congregate settings like Connon Nurseries in Waterdown, which now has 30 coronavirus cases among staffers.
Two others include the Aryzta/Oakrun Farm Bakery in Ancaster, which reported 20 cases among workers and a construction site on the Mountain at Rymal Road with 22 infections.
“These are the people who are exposed cheek by jowl with each other for a whole eight hour work shift. That’s where the transmission is taking place in great many of our cities,” said Sly.
Slow distribution of vaccines are also contributing to larger third wave case numbers, according to Sly.
As of Sunday, Canada ranked 39th among nations in vaccinations per 100 people, according to researchers from Our World in Data.
Twenty-one percent of the county has been partially vaccinated, while only 2.4 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
The epidemiologist attributes the sluggish pace to not having large scale vaccine production in Canada and a reliance on importing.
“It’s subject to other people’s policies and protocols in other countries that produce this stuff, and of course, we’ve got the AstraZeneca issue which is causing some hesitation by itself,” said Sly.
Hamilton clinics have administered 145,321 COVID-19 vaccines as of the weekend, 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 318 new COVID-19 cases on the weekend, 8 new outbreaks
Hamilton reported 318 new COVID-19 cases on the weekend, with 161 on Saturday and 157 on Sunday.
Public health also recorded one more death tied to residents that had COVID-19. The deceased was a person in their 80s.
Hamilton has reported 344 total virus-related deaths since the pandemic began in 2020.
Active cases are up by 91 over two days from the 1,309 reported on Friday to 1,400 on Sunday.
The city’s seven-day average of new cases went up by 11 from Friday to 166 as of April 18.
The weekly case rate is now at 194 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, the percentage of all coronavirus tests coming back positive is at 7.4 per cent, a pandemic high.
Public health reported eight new outbreaks on the weekend at three supportive housing sites, two workplaces, a school, child care facility and a hospital.
The two Central Hamilton housing outbreaks involve single cases at Kelly’s Residence on Sherman Avenue and the Salvation Army’s Lawson Ministries on Main Street East. The outbreak at Hatts Off Girl’s Country Home on the East Mountain also is tied to just one case among a staff member.
The Unified Engineering facility in the industrial sector and Hamilton police services location on Wilson Street are the work place surges involving four and two staff cases respectively.
The outbreak at R.L. Hyslop Elementary School is with one student and one staff member, while the today’s family child care reported three cases among patrons.
Hamilton General says their outbreak at the support services location is with three staffers.
Six outbreaks were declared over on Saturday and Sunday, with the largest at the Abington Court retirement residence, which accounted for 11 cases over 30 days.
The three school outbreaks closed included a pair of catholic elementary schools: at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School on the Mountain and Cathedral High School in Central Hamilton.
The outbreak at the Prince of Wales elementary was also closed. Combined, the three public schools had seven total cases in the surges that began in April.
The Rygiel Supports for Community Living surge on the Mountain had seven total cases, while the Mission Services East Hamilton shelter overflow facility saw eight cases over 20 days.
Five Hamilton schools are experiencing outbreaks, with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) accounting for three, and the Catholic board (HWCDSB) with two.
There are 24 cases in the public schools that are in current outbreaks.
Supportive house sites in the city now have a combined 37 cases in eight outbreaks with Kelly’s branded residences accounting for half the outbreaks tied to 26 cases.
There have now been 15,303 total coronavirus cases locally since the pandemic began last year.