COVID-19: Oglaza ‘cautiously optimistic’ KFL&A has turned a corner in Omicron wave

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced on Wednesday that the federal government will deliver 140 million rapid COVID-19 tests to provinces and territories this month as the Omicron variant spreads. – Jan 5, 2022

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health’s medical officer of health says he is cautiously optimistic the region has turned a corner in the Omicron wave of COVID-19 after the region was the first in Canada to deal with cases of the highly transmissible variant.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza made the comments during his weekly local media briefing but added that the recent changes in testing eligibility will make it harder to know for sure if the Omicron wave is truly behind us and it will likely take much longer to tell.

“As we might be observing the time when the numbers could be peaking at the same time, there’s also been a change in the testing criteria. So typically we can only have a reliable determination to when the outbreak peaked retrospectively,” Oglaza said.

Read more: Kingston Health Sciences Centre outlines new guidelines for COVID-19 testing

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While he admits case counts are becoming increasingly unreliable, the hospitalization rates are down to nearly half of what they were during the Delta wave.

There are currently 18 hospitalizations in the region, while the peak was 32 earlier in the pandemic. He even went as far as to say that disease activity in the region has stabilized.

Oglaza added that most of the region’s intensive care and ventilated patients have been in hospital since the Delta wave.

“That’s a very, very promising indicator and something that I really would like to focus on right now as describing the situation in the community.

“We have to focus on those outcomes and impacts that truly matter. It’s the hospitalizations, ICU admissions that are really the key indicator here.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Canada not changing definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ Tam says' COVID-19: Canada not changing definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ Tam says
COVID-19: Canada not changing definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ Tam says – Jan 5, 2022

According to Oglaza, part of the reason for that could be the vaccination rates in the region, which are some of the highest in the country, and highest in certain categories. He added that the unvaccinated are six times more likely to be hospitalized from a COVID-19 infection.

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Currently, KFL&A has the highest vaccination rates for those 70 and older and five to 11. Among residents five years of age and older, 91 per cent have received at least their first dose, while 54 per cent have received their booster shot.

“This is something that puts us in a really good position for the rest of the respiratory season,” Oglaza said.

Read more: Ontario hospitals gear up for growing pressure from Omicron wave

Oglaza says the region’s high vaccination uptake shows that residents are “buying in,” and credits the large number of volunteers who helped make the holiday vaccination clinics such a success.

“That’s really the reflection of the community effort, and we could have not done this without the support and dedication of so many staff and partnerships that brought the community together to both vaccinate and get vaccinated,” Oglaza said.

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