‘Assume that they might have COVID’: Peel’s top doctor says after 22% test positivity in Brampton

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 test results coming back positive for 1 in 5 residents in Brampton: Peel’s top doctor'
COVID-19 test results coming back positive for 1 in 5 residents in Brampton: Peel’s top doctor
WATCH ABOVE: COVID-19 test results coming back positive for 1 in 5 residents in Brampton: Peel’s top doctor – Apr 21, 2021

Peel Region’s medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh says Brampton’s test positivity has now reached above 20 per cent, meaning one in five COVID-19 tests are coming back positive.

“That is why we have always advised people, if you are meeting people outside of the people that you already live with, assume that they might have COVID,” Loh said.

“Assume that they might have been exposed and they might be incubating. Always wear a mask, always distance, stick to the precautions as much as possible. Get vaccinated where you can,” Loh continued.

“22.4 per cent just increases that possibility even more. That any interaction with anyone outside your household may result in transmission.”

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Brampton’s test positivity is at 22.4 per cent with a weekly incidence rate of 466.7 per 100,000 people, Loh said.

Peel Region’s per cent positivity rate. Region of Peel - Public Health
Peel Region’s incidence rate per 100,000. Region of Peel - Public Health

He added there is a record of 200 COVID-19 patients admitted to Brampton Civic Hospital.

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However, Mayor Patrick Brown said that the number of patients admitted “does not tell the whole story because they are constantly transferring patients to other hospitals.”

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Loh warned that when the voices of ICU doctors, hospital front line workers and infectious disease specialists become more prominent “than mine, a medical officer of health who is in the community. I think that’s a sign that the hospitals are in crisis.”

“I also think that’s also a sign that the pandemic has entered one of our most severe and critical phases. So there isn’t a lot more wiggle room … I think people need to be taking this seriously,” Loh said.

Mayor calls on province to add more pharmacies to Brampton’s vaccine rollout

Brown said he compared the pharmacy rollout in Brampton to other municipalities. He said Brampton has eight pharmacies per 100,000 residents, while there is 10 in Mississauga, nine in Toronto and Kingston has 26 pharmacies per the same ratio.

“It makes no sense that the city that has the highest positivity rate, that is a clear hot spot, wouldn’t be getting the same vaccine pharmacy resources as other municipalities that are not in a predicament as difficult as Brampton,” Brown said.

“I have written the province on my wishes to see that pharmacy rollout expanded even further,” Brown added.

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Ontario’s website indicates Brampton has a total of 61 participating pharmacies administering vaccines (six of which are 24/7). It lists a total of 35 pharmacies for Kingston. Brampton has a population of around 700,000 residents and around 176,000 for Kingston.

Pharmacies across the province are currently only administering AstraZeneca to people aged 40 and older.

Loh said more than 400,000 doses of vaccine have been been administered so far in Peel Region among mass immunization sites and pop-up clinics. Provincially, more than 4.1 million doses have gone into people’s arms.

Brown said Brampton Fire’s firefighters will be assisting hospitals and healthcare workers with vaccinating residents.

Peel Region’s public health unit, along with Toronto’s, ordered all businesses with five or more recent COVID-19 cases to shut down for 10 days.

Peel Public Health was the first to issue the directive for businesses who have discovered the cases over the last 14 days where “the cases could have reasonably acquired their infection at work” or where “no obvious source of infection has been identified outside of the workplace.”

Loh said workplaces still remain a “major driver of COVID-19 cases in Peel.”

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With files from Jessica Patton.

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