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COVID-19: Waterloo officials warn region may not move to Stage 2 of reopening with Ontario

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Waterloo Region public health is urging residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible amid a surge in cases due to the Delta variant.

Medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang told the regional council on Wednesday afternoon that the variant is becoming the predominant strain in the region.

She also warned that the region may not be able to move into Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan with the rest of Ontario.

The warning comes on the same day that Waterloo Region posted the highest number of new cases than any other health unit in the province with 71 new positive tests, locally.

Read more: Waterloo Region is the worst for COVID-19, according to province’s numbers

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Data provided by Dr. Wang during the meeting showed 83 per cent of confirmed Delta variant cases in Waterloo Region are unvaccinated individuals while nearly 14 per cent of cases were vaccinated but did not yet have full protection from the vaccine.

There was also one confirmed variant case in someone who was fully vaccinated but that person did not experience symptoms.

Dr. Wang said those who have yet to receive a vaccine need to stop waiting.

“Even one dose of any of the vaccines available in Ontario is very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization against the Delta variant,” she said.

Residents are also being told to not turn down an opportunity to get a Moderna vaccine while waiting for a Pfizer vaccine.

“They are both highly and equally effective,” Dr. Wang said. “Do not turn down Moderna if it means you can get your first dose or complete your vaccine series sooner.”

Ontario is scheduled to move into Stage 2 of the reopening on July 2 but that might not be the case in Waterloo Region due to the surge in cases, Dr. Wang said.

“I am also in discussions with the province regarding our current situation in Stage 1. We will need to watch the next few days closely,” she said.

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Despite being in Stage 2, she asked residents to still not gather with others outside of their immediate households.

Read more: 2 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines more effective than AstraZeneca against Delta variant, data says

Wang said she and regional chair Karen Redman have been in contact with provincial officials, including Premier Doug Ford, to bring in more vaccines and resources to the region.

“We need more vaccine and that will help us move forward,” Dr. Wang said.

Anyone over the age of 12 can register for a vaccine. More information can be found on public health’s website.

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