A specialist in modelling infectious disease outbreaks says a benchmark of 1,000 COVID-19 cases a day in Ontario is possible by early June as long as the vaccine rollout and the controlling of the virus spread doesn’t hit a snag.
Researcher Chris Bauch from the University of Waterloo says the number Dr. David Williams set on Monday as what he wants to see before recommending an easing of restrictions is “achievable.”
“We’re dealing with this more transmissible variant, right, so it’s taking a bit longer to get the cases down,” said Bauch.
“But I do think that early June is entirely achievable. I don’t think that’s too optimistic in terms of when we can get down to a thousand cases a day.”
Ontario reported 2,073 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a significant drop from Monday’s which saw 2,716 new infections. It is also the lowest single-day increase since March 24. However, testing was also low for Tuesday.
Bauch says the province can’t rely on just vaccinations to get out of stay-at-home orders as the shots really only stop severe illness and are not really 95 per cent effective at preventing infections.
“It stops people from getting very sick, but, in terms of blocking transmission it’s somewhat less effective,” Bauch said.
The analyst believes a post-lockdown strategy likely will involve a similar process exhibited with the province’s COVID-19 response framework, which uses a colour-coded system to mitigate spread region from region.
Bauch expects such a convention would likely be in play at least until the fall
“So, for example, in some areas you’ll be able to do outdoor gatherings again. They might reopen schools. So it’ll look a little bit like what we had,” according to Bauch.
As of Tuesday, close to 13 million Canadians have received a COVID-19 vaccine dose, representing roughly 31 per cent of the population.
Ontario has administered 6.4 million shots as of May 11.
As of Monday, just over 221,000 doses have been administered to Hamiltonians, representing roughly 43 per cent of the city’s eligible population over 16.
Bauch agrees with other mathematicians who last week said “herd immunity” is likely not achievable in Canada, however, he suspects the affliction will become more like the flu over time and something that will have a slower rate of spread and mutation.
“It might be something more like seasonal influenza,” Bauch said.
“So it might be something that we have to immunize against, but probably not every year like we do for seasonal influenza.”
Hamilton reports 94 new COVID-19 cases, 3 apartment outbreaks top 150 cases
Hamilton reported 94 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, and saw three outbreaks at downtown Hamilton apartment buildings grow to 158 total cases combined as of Monday.
The surge at Rebecca Towers grew by four more cases to 107 as of Tuesday while public health officially recorded 29 and 22 cases respectively for The Village apartments and Wellington Place.
The city revealed one other outbreak on Tuesday — a construction site near Mount Albion School at 24 Kennard Street involving six workers.
Meanwhile, the surge at Kromet International Inc. on Milburn Road involving seven staff members has precipitated a partial closure of the workplace by order of public health. The city says the notice dismissed a shift for 10 days to stop the spread of the virus.
Public health closed seven outbreaks on Monday at four workplaces: Maple Leaf Heritage on the east Mountain, Footletic and Maria’s Tortas Jalisco in Stoney Creek and the State Group in the industrial sector. The largest of the four was at Maple Leaf plant in Red Hill which involved 13 workers.
As of Tuesday, the city has 20 outbreaks in workplaces involving over 150 total cases.
Hamilton has 44 total outbreaks as of May 11 involving over 450 people.
There are 135 patients with COVID-19 in Hamilton hospitals as of May 11. Hamilton Health Sciences says they have 99 with 35 in intensive care units (ICU) and St. Joe’s has 36 patients, with 27 of those in an ICU.
Public health reported a reproductive number of 1.12 on Friday, which indicates there is still spread of the virus in the community.
The seven-day moving average of cases was at 133 as of the weekend, while the positivity rate, last recorded on May 7, shows that 12.2 per cent of all tests are coming back positive in Hamilton.