Omicron variant cases declining in Kingston, according to medical officer of health

Click to play video: 'Omicron cases declining in Kingston'
Omicron cases declining in Kingston
KFL&A's medical officer of health reports the COVID-19 positivity rate is the lowest in the province – Jan 20, 2022

It was at a mid-December media briefing that Dr. Piotr Oglaza, KFL&A’s medical officer of health, was raising the alarm bells about the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“Unfortunately, when we look at how we compare with the rest of the country, rest of the province, we are the highest in the country and the highest ever case rate reported by any public health unit,” Oglaza said at that time.

Kingston was one of the first cities in Ontario to see Omicron become the dominant variant of COVID-19 and now it appears the region is one of the first to start to see new cases of the coronavirus begin to slow.

“Our per cent positivity has decreased substantially from earlier this year and late 2021 and is now stabilizing around eight per cent,” Oglaza said during a media briefing this week.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario sees ‘glimmers of hope’ in Omicron fight, health minister says'
COVID-19: Ontario sees ‘glimmers of hope’ in Omicron fight, health minister says

Dr. Gerald Evans, the chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen’s University, says the data he’s seeing indicates the city and surrounding areas are returning pre-Omicron COVID-19 levels.

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“We are seeing wastewater detection getting us back to baselines where we were in October,” said Evans. “We are seeing a reduction in the number of outbreaks and outbreaks are driven by high community prevalence.”

It’s welcome news for Luke Chambers, a co-owner of Hair of the Dog Barber and Pub.

Provincial restrictions closed the pub portion of the business and greatly reduced the services he offers on the barber side.

“A good percentage of our business has been hair and beard trims,” said Chambers. “When it comes to the shaves, the beards, that was a good chunk, a good 60 per cent of the day would include that extra service. ”

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With the premier and minister of health announcing a staggered approach to easing restrictions at the end of January, Chambers is looking forward to an increase in business.

“It’s just going to allow us to get back to half business because obviously 50 per cent occupancy still, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Chambers. “It makes me confident that March might not be just a pipe dream.”

As part of the staggered approach, restrictions will be reduced on Jan. 31, with further restrictions being lifted on Feb. 21 and again on March 14 as long as COVID-19 cases don’t begin to increase.

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