Niagara Region hospitals report no COVID-19 patients for the first time since September

The Niagara Health System's St. Catharines Site hospital. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

On Wednesday, Niagara Region reported no COVID-19 patients at any of its facilities for the first time in nearly a year.

It’s a notable event because Niagara has one of Ontario’s largest hospital systems.

Execs at Niagara Health reported no COVID-19 patients at any of its five sites on Aug. 4 and suggested the impact of vaccinations is likely the reason why.

“We are getting closer to putting the pandemic behind us as more people get vaccinated,” said Dr. Johan Viljoen, Niagara Health’s Chief of Staff, in a release.

Read more: Thinking of travelling? Here’s where mixed COVID-19 vaccines aren’t accepted

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is critical to preventing a fourth wave and ending this pandemic. We encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated with a first and/or second dose to do so.”

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The agency said the milestone represents the first time it has had zero COVID-19 patients since September 2020.

Linda Boich, the executive lead for Niagara’s COVID-19 vaccination task force, thanked staffers with Niagara Health for their contributions amid the pandemic.

“We are grateful to them for their professionalism and commitment to our patients and their families, which are making a positive difference during a difficult time. We’re also thankful to our partners and our community for their support and efforts throughout the pandemic.”

Niagara Region public health reported just one new COVID-19 case on Wednesday with 49 active cases. The region has only had three new cases in the last three days.

Click to play video: 'U.S. hospitalizations reach record highs as Delta variant spreads' U.S. hospitalizations reach record highs as Delta variant spreads
U.S. hospitalizations reach record highs as Delta variant spreads – Aug 2, 2021

In a public health update on Tuesday, acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji said declining hospitalizations and case counts in Niagara likely have come from the public’s acknowledgment that the more transmissible Delta variant is still a threat despite rising vaccination numbers.

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Read more: Germany, France will give COVID-19 vaccine boosters despite WHO call for pause

“It’s not like the war suddenly changed for us the way the CDC is saying. We knew it had changed back in May and we’ve fortunately been making decisions that hopefully set us up relatively well for what’s going to happen,” Hirji said.

As of Tuesday, over 627,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Niagara with 70 per cent of the population receiving a first shot and 60 per cent having completed their series of doses.

Despite more than 80 per cent of people in Ontario aged 12 and older having received at least one dose of a vaccine, Hirji said cases will probably still increase somewhat over the next month.

Read more: More than 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

How much, he says, depends on how quickly the public resumes “interactions with society.”

“I think the next little while is going to be all about us finding a balance of having more vaccine so we can bend the curve downwards while also not opening up too much to allow us to have this kind of massive rise of cases,” Hirji said.

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