Hamilton public health says current COVID activity low, next wave expected in fall

Positive, left, and negative COVID-19 antigen rapid tests are picture in Calgary, Alta. on Jan. 4. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Health officials say Hamilton’s COVID-19 activity is now about half of what was seen in the last two waves of the pandemic in late April and mid-January.

During the city’s Board of Health meeting on Monday, epidemiologist Erin Rodenburg told councillors seven day averages of hospitalizations over the past few months have been on a “decreasing trend” and are as low now as they were before the most recent wave at about 1.1 per day.

Intensive care unit (ICU) admissions over the current wave also remained low with numbers averaging slightly above zero between Feb. 23 and the end of last week.

Read more: Ontario COVID numbers: 370 people in hospital, 112 in intensive care

“So we do see decreasing trends in all of our indicators, and that’s good news that this most recent wave is continuing to decrease,” Rodenburg said.

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The latest Scarsin forecasting for Hamilton, which is predicting numbers from June until the end of December, suggest the city will hit a seventh wave in the fall due to waning immunity and increased transmission based on the current roll-out of forth COVID vaccine doses.

Hospital admissions are anticipated to peak at levels between the previous Omicron-driven waves five and six, with between three and ten hospitalizations per day” according to Rodenburg.

The prediction is based on current rates of deployment for vaccinations and treatments as well as virus behaviors consistent with what has been seen in previous waves, particularly the sixth.

“So in other words, the variants that are circulating in the fall are not more transmissible or more likely to cause serious outcomes,” said Rodenburg.

Data suggests business sectors should account for more staff absences in the fall, however, hospitalizations due to COVID and the flu should be manageable by local hospital networks.

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As of Monday, Hamilton had just nine people hospitalized for COVID and two in ICUs. On this date last month, there were just over 120 in hospital with two in ICUs because of COVID.

There are 370 people in hospital with COVID-19 as of Monday in Ontario. There are also 112 people in an intensive care unit with or due to the virus.

The city has three institutional outbreaks as of June 13 tied to 12 total cases at a pair of retirement homes and a long-term care home.

There were 26 outbreaks reported on this date a month ago.

The city saw just over 20 more COVID-related deaths in the last 30 days.

More than 88 per cent of Hamilton’s eligible population, age five years and older, have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine and 85 per cent have received two doses.

Read more: Travel industry calls for removal of vaccine mandate and other COVID restrictions

Third doses are in 55 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and over and fourth doses have been administered to at least 29 per cent of the population aged 60 years and over.

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Since April, the majority of doses administered in Hamilton have been fourth doses in the 60-plus population.

“However, after seeing an increase in April, throughput has been slowing for COVID vaccine overall,” epidemiologist Michelle Baird told councillors on Monday.

“First, second and third doses continue to be low, but we’re still seeing relatively steady volumes over the last two months.”

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