New COVID variant confirmed in Peterborough area, risk index at moderate

Peterborough Public Health says the first confirmed case of the new COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 was reported this week. DD

A new mutated variant of the COVID-19 virus has been confirmed in the region of Peterborough, Ont., health officials reported Wednesday.

According to Dr. Thomas Piggott, Peterborough Public Health’s medical officer of health, this week the health unit received confirmation of its first COVID-19 case with the BA.2.86 variant in the region.

The health unit serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.

“Other reports of this variant do not indicate an increase in the severity of symptoms compared to other COVID-19 strains,” he said. “However, this variant does show signs of high transmissibility.”

Piggott said there are “early reports” of the variant being able to escape protection from previous COVID-19 vaccines.

“Fortunately, the new COVID-19 XBB vaccine shows promising results in protecting against this strain,” he said.

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He said the health unit is planning for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks.

Risk index

Also on Wednesday, the health unit’s weekly risk index moved from low risk to a moderate risk level due to an increase in case rates, outbreaks and wastewater signals.

COVID-19 risk index and indicators from Peterborough Public Health on Wednesday. Peterborough Public Health

“The increase in COVID-19 indicators is a clear sign that transmission of COVID-19 is increasing in our region,” Piggott said.

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“With students in schools and more people gathering indoors, there are more opportunities for close contact and we anticipate COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses will continue to circulate in our community.”

Case data as of Sept. 20 for the health unit's jurisdiction


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Active cases: 73

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Deaths: 148 since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. That’s one more since the risk index was last at moderate on Aug. 30

New PCR-confirmed cases: 58 since the Sept. 13 update

Active PCR lab-confirmed cases: 26. The province and health unit note the number of active cases being reported is an “underestimation” due to changes to PCR testing availability effective Dec. 31, 2021.

Hospitalizations: 668 — cumulative hospitalized cases since the pandemic began. There have been 60 cases in an intensive care unit since the pandemic was declared.

Cumulative lab-confirmed cases: 11,619 since the pandemic began.

Resolved cases: The 11,398 cumulative resolved cases make up approximately 98 per cent of all lab-confirmed cases since the pandemic was declared.

Outbreaks: The health unit only reports “high-risk” outbreaks. There is one active outbreak reported on Wednesday afternoon — Canterbury Gardens Retirement Residence in Peterborough — which was declared on Sept. 8. There have been 253 outbreaks since the pandemic was declared.

Vaccination: Approximately 82 per cent of residents have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine known as the “primary series count.” Six per cent of residents have had a booster dose (three or more doses) in the last six months.

— more to come

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