Advertisement

Hamilton’s active COVID-19 cases below 1,000, researcher says life without masks ‘far away’

Health officials said all residents at long-term and personal care homes in Saskatchewan will be allowed unlimited indoor visitors, but only two at a time, as of May 30. Global News

The director of Ontario’s Science Table believes life with no masks in the province is still “far, far away” following an announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans can forgo face coverings in some situations.

Dr. Peter Juni told Global News that he and his colleagues ‘were a bit scared” upon hearing suggestions from the CDC that people vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 2,300 new COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths

Juni said researchers still need to see how the community in Canada evolves with the spread of variants which pose a risk since numbers suggest some vaccines are less effective against new mutations.

Story continues below advertisement

These vaccines are great, you know, the ones from Pfizer and Moderna, absolutely, ” said Juni.

“But again, remember, we have these variants lurking in the background that partially escape these vaccines. So the vaccine effectiveness will decrease a bit.”

The professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto says when more people have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine it is possible to gain some liberties in the summer, particularly with outdoor spaces and even restaurants.

“The risk will then be very low because outdoors is perhaps 20-times safer than indoors, ” said Juni.

“Even if you share a few droplets, if all of the people on the table are vaccinated, that’s a different ballgame then.”

Story continues below advertisement

Juni agrees with Ontario’s medical officer of health Dr. David Williams who suggested cases need to get down to less than 1,000 per day before an easing of restrictions.

He believes that might happen in early June since cases continue to drop from more than 4,000 a day in late April to under 3,000 as of Friday.

“I would suggest, you know, that the beginning of June at the latest, that we would be in a position to open a little bit with outdoor spaces and just have really clear, simple messages [of] what to do,” Juni said.

Read more: Delaying 2nd Pfizer vaccine dose may protect better against COVID-19: study

As of Friday, close to 13 million Canadians have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, representing close to 34 per cent of the population.

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario has administered more than 6.7 million shots, while just over 44 per cent of Hamilton’s eligible population above the age of 16 have had at least one shot.

City clinics, primary care and pharmacies have administered at least 228,000 doses as of Thursday.

Hamilton reports 118 new COVID-19 cases, active cases drop below 1,000

Hamilton reported 118 new COVID-19 infections on Friday with active cases dropping below 1,000 for the first time in more than a month.

The city recorded 967 active cases on May 14, the last time the number was below 1,000 was April 11 when the city had 938 cases.

Read more: COVID-19: Experts say clarity, collaboration needed for ‘two-dose summer’ in Ontario

There were three new outbreaks revealed on Friday, which include a pair of workplaces.

Story continues below advertisement

All three of the surges involve two cases each among workers: at Mohawk Medbuy on the Wests Mountain, an Orlick Industries facility and Paramount Landscaping on Green Spring Road.

Three outbreaks in Stoney Creek were closed on Thursday at D & D Custom Steel, Hamilton Fire Department station 12 and 3 TEC Computer Services.

There were six cases in each of the outbreaks at D & D and Hamilton Fire, just two with 3 TEC.

As of May 14, the city has 20 outbreaks in workplaces involving more than 145 total cases.

Read more: Golf community livid about Ontario extending ban on sport

Public health reported a significant increase at one of three downtown apartment buildings experiencing an outbreak.

Case numbers almost doubled at The Village Apartments on Queen Street North moving from 34 to 65. The outbreak, declared on May 10, involves 64 residents and a staff member.

The surge at Rebecca Towers has 109 total cases among 106 residents and three workers. The Wellington Place outbreak still has 22 cases among occupants as of Friday.

Hamilton has 40 total outbreaks as of May 14 involving at least 480 people.

Story continues below advertisement

There are 125 patients with COVID-19 in Hamilton hospitals as of May 14. Hamilton Health Sciences says they have 86 patients, with 33 in intensive care units (ICU) and St. Joe’s 39 patients, with 26 of those in an ICU.

The city’s reproductive number dropped below 1.0 on Friday to 0.82, which suggests the spread of the virus within the community has been contained.

Read more: Britain adapts vaccine rollout as B.1.617.2 variant threatens full reopening plan

The seven-day moving average of cases was at 120 as of Friday.

For the ninth day in a row, public health reported a drop in the percentage of Hamilton tests returning from Ontario labs as positive for COVID-19.

The rate dropped day over day to 7.4 per cent, down from 8.8 per cent as of Thursday.

The rate is still above the last reported daily number from the province, May 13, which was at 6.1 per cent.

Sponsored content