Two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been confirmed in the Peterborough region, the area’s health unit reported Tuesday afternoon.
Peterborough Public Health medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott announced the two cases as he outlined details on letters of instruction on safety measures for workplaces and food premises. Issued on Monday, the measures — including remote work for non-essential employees — takes effect Wednesday.
He said it is not surprising the variant has been found in the region, and that it was only a “matter of time,” as the variant has been located across Ontario over the past few weeks. The health unit serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.
Piggott said the two cases are not linked to one another — one is linked to another known Omicron case outside the region and the other case remains under investigation.
“Behave as though Omicron is here and is spreading in the community,” he said. “And I do anticipate we will see many more cases in the coming days.”
Piggott also reported the 27th COVID-19 death since the pandemic was declared — the third death this month. Piggott said the latest victim was a man in his 40s who was unvaccinated.
Piggott also said the health unit is ramping up efforts to administer third-dose vaccinations, highlighting 5,500 additional appointment slots for booster shots for individuals age 50 and up, which opened Tuesday after scaling up clinics “five-fold.”
He said the health unit is redeploying as many staff as possible to assist with future vaccination clinics. However, Piggott says they are seeking volunteers or individuals to serve as administrators to assist in future clinics.
“This is a all-hands-on-deck effort,” he said.
Visit the health unit’s career website to sign up as a volunteer.
Vaccination clinic volunteers needed
Piggott stressed while they continue to focus on vaccination, they are also strengthening local public health measures via the letters of instruction.
“The time to get off the train tracks is when we see the train approaching, not after it has hit us,” he said.
“The public health measures will be extremely important in helping us protect the population against Omicron.”
The health unit’s COVID tracker update, issued around 4:33 p.m., shows 49 active cases of COVID-19, down from 54 reported on Monday.
The health unit reports the following three active outbreaks on Tuesday:
- St. Catherine Elementary School in Peterborough: Declared Wednesday, Dec. 8, there are eight active cases (up two since Friday), according to the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board as of Monday morning.
- Millbrook/South Cavan Public School in Millbrook: Declared late Dec. 6, there are eight active cases (up one since Friday), according to the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board as of Monday morning.
- Student Transportation of Canada bus route 627 in Peterborough: Declared Dec. 2, case details have not been provided.
The outbreak declared Dec. 3 at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Peterborough was lifted on Tuesday.
The health unit has had 366 cases associated with 64 outbreaks since the pandemic was declared.
Other data from the regional health unit on Tuesday:
- Cumulative confirmed cases: 2,105 since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.
- Variant of concern cases: 1,261 — 25 more cases since Monday’s update. The health unit reported two Omicron variant cases Tuesday. The first variant case in the region was reported Feb. 23; the first confirmed Delta variant case was reported on June 19.
- Resolved cases: 2,029 — eight more cases since Monday. Resolved cases make up approximately 96.1 per cent of all cases.
- Close contacts: 238 — down from 398 reported Monday. People who are close contacts have to self-isolate for 14 days from the last time they had contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
- Hospitalizations: 98 cases have required hospitalization since the pandemic began — unchanged since Dec. 7. Peterborough Regional Health Centre late Monday reported two active COVID-19 admissions. The hospitalized cases make up approximately 4.7 per cent of all cases; 21 of the cases required the intensive care unit — unchanged since Nov. 23. ICU admissions make up 1.1 per cent of all the health unit’s cases since the pandemic’s beginning.
- COVID-19 exposure: 74.9 per cent of all cases (1,576) in the health unit’s jurisdiction are from contact with another existing case, 20.5 per cent (432 cases) are connected with community spread, 3.8 per cent (79 cases) are related to travel and 0.9 per cent (18 cases) have their source yet to be determined.
- Testing: More than 66,700 people have been tested for COVID-19 — an additional 100 since Monday’s update. Approximately one in three residents has been tested for COVID-19.
- Enforcement: Since Oct. 1, these charges have been laid against a total of four businesses under the Reopening Ontario Act, including the orders issued Dec. 1 to close PB’s Peterburgers restaurant on George Street North.
The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board as of 11:25 a.m. Tuesday reported eight active cases at schools within the health unit’s jurisdiction (school board does not indicate if cases involve students or staff. All schools remain open):
- 6 cases: St. Catherine Catholic Elementary School (unchanged case total since Friday) in Peterborough; an outbreak was declared on Dec. 8.
- 1 case: St. Peter Catholic Secondary School in Peterborough (new case) and St. Paul Catholic Elementary School in Norwood (unchanged).
Two cases at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary in Peterborough reported resolved and the outbreak was lifted.
The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday reported 16 active cases among its schools within the health unit’s jurisdiction. All schools with cases remain open (school board does not indicate if cases involve students or staff):
- 7 cases: Millbrook/South Cavan Public School in Millbrook (-1); outbreak declared Dec. 6.
- 2 cases: North Shore Public School in Keene (new cases); Westmount Public School (-3), Prince of Wales Public School (unchanged) and Queen Mary Public School (unchanged), all in Peterborough
- One case: Peterborough Alternative Continuing Education (unchanged)
Single cases at Adam Scott Intermediate and Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School, both in Peterborough, were reported resolved Tuesday.
Trent University reported one active case at its Peterborough campus Tuesday — one less since Monday — and none at its Durham campus. The university reports that 96 per cent of students and 97 per cent of employees are fully vaccinated and zero per cent of students and zero per cent of staff are partially vaccinated.
Fleming College has not reported any cases at its Peterborough campus. The college will resume in-person classes and services in January 2022.
The health unit releases its weekly vaccination rate data on Wednesdays. The latest data can be found in this Global News Peterborough article.
Walk-in and school clinics
The health unit will host a number of vaccination clinics for children at several Peterborough County schools. All clinics will be held outside of school hours. Clinics include:
- Friday, Dec. 17: St. Martin Catholic Elementary School in Ennismore from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Monday, Dec. 20: Millbrook/South Cavan Public School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Wednesday, Dec. 29: Lakefield District Public School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bookings for children ages five to 11 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine are available as well as third-dose/booster vaccinations. All appointments have to be booked on Ontario’s online portal or by calling the provincial vaccine booking call centre at 1-833-943-3900.
All testing and medical assessments for COVID-19 in Peterborough are now consolidated at Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s assessment centre at 1 Hospital Dr.
A number of Peterborough and area pharmacies offer vaccinations to eligible recipients. Appointments are required and can be made by calling the respective pharmacies or visiting the Ontario government’s website.