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COVID case counts continue to fall in Huron-Perth

Renewed vaccine delivery ramps up distribution to high-risk sectors in region

HURON-PERTH – It would appear as though the most recent provincial lockdown that was finally lifted in most Ontario Public Health regions on Feb. 16 has shown positive results in terms of COVID-19 case counts dropping.

During Huron Perth Public Health’s twice-weekly status update on Tuesday, Dr. Miriam Klassen reported that the region’s cumulative positive case count now totals 1,302, with 15 new positive cases added since the last update on Feb. 11. Of those total cases, 34 remain active in the region. Two more people succumbed to the virus in the last few days; the first was a Seaforth Manor resident, and the second was a Listowel Caressant Care Nursing Home (the facility’s outbreak was declared over last week) resident who had been absent of infection, but COVID-19 was labelled as a contributing cause of their death.

Forty-nine people have died from coronavirus-related factors since the onset of the pandemic nearly one year ago.

Outbreaks continue at the Caressant Care Retirement Home in Listowel, as well as Seaforth Manor, Fordwich Village Nursing Home and Hillside Manor in Stratford. There is one current outbreak at a child care facility in Exeter, and one reported outbreak at an unidentified workplace in the region.

Klassen said that despite Huron-Perth moving into the ‘orange-restrict’ level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework, residents should not relax safety measures as recommended by Public Health officials.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, the pandemic is still ongoing,” she said. “The variants of concern are becoming a bigger proportion of our positive cases. If that continues, that could really drive us a certain way. We’re still really advising everyone to be discriminating, and still minimize your contacts. When you do go out and take advantage of some of these (reopening) opportunities, to really follow the Public Health measures very carefully when you do so.”

Klassen said that HPPH’s vaccine rollout received a boost with the renewed delivery of supply into Canada. Coupled with guidance from the province, and in partnership with Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health, the region is nearing completion of the first phase of vaccinations which target high-risk long-term care residents and staff, and frontline health care workers and caregivers.

She added that Canada’s goal is to have everyone vaccinated who wishes to be immunized by September of this year. Residents 80 years and older not living in long-term care or retirement facilities will be among the next target groups once the second phase of the vaccination plan commences.

“They are one of the next priority populations,” said Klassen. “It really is a matter of how much vaccine inventory we receive, and how quickly we can move through them. It’s in the foreseeable future.”

In terms of the COVID-19 variants turning up around the globe, Canada included, Klassen confirmed that no such variants have been detected within any Huron-Perth testing to date.