Updated modeling released on Thursday afternoon warned that Ontario risked exceeding case numbers in multiple European cities currently under some form of lockdown if growth reached 5 percent. The province’s seven-day growth rate stood at four percent after a surge of cases in the Greater Toronto Area.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit area, however, had been relatively stable during this surge, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told reporters during a Thursday afternoon briefing. The region’s most recent weekly average was 31.1 new cases per 100,000 people, one of the lowest in the province. Neighbouring Ottawa stood at 35.6, while the Peel region and Toronto had hit 130.5 and 88.5.
Those EOHU’s rates had been helped, in part, by the region’s low percentage of cases without contact tracing, as well as a declining positivity rate from tests. Only 3.1 percent of COVID case had no epidemiological link in the EOHU area, compared to 61.6 percent in Toronto.
“We know where they came from, which is a very different thing from what we’re seeing in Durham, Ottawa, and even Toronto,” Dr. Roumeliotis said. “If we were [at Toronto’s level], even with the current case numbers we have, it would be a different story. We have clusters of cases, but at least we know where they are, and that means we can contain them better.”
One of those clusters is an ongoing outbreak at the Prescott and Russell Residence, at which 19 residents were confirmed to have died since October 9. Twelve of those deaths were directly linked to COVID, while another seven were unrelated. Ninety-seven residents have tested positive to the virus, of which 66 had been resolved. Seven of the 62 residence staff COVID cases remained active.
Dr. Roumeliotis said the region remained in a dangerous situation, despite its relatively lower numbers. Eastern Ontario’s status in the “Yellow – Protect” status of the province’s COVID alert level was confirmed again on Thursday morning, which left it above the base “green” status.
“Because we’re at the lower end right now and doing better we should just say that we’re good and forget about it,” he said. “We need to continue what we’re doing, because this thing could come back at any time.”
Travelling only for essentials, limiting contact and keeping only members of your immediate household in your bubble was recommended. Dr. Roumeliotis said he had no intention of introducing new restrictions beyond those in the province’s “yellow” framework at this stage.
Across the region, 170 COVID cases were active on Thursday, of which 83 were in Prescott-Russell. The total number of cases since the pandemic began hit more than 500 this week. Local active cases included:
- 34 in Hawkesbury;
- 16 in Clarence-Rockland;
- 13 in Alfred & Plantagenet;
- 8 in Champlain;
- 6 in Russell;
- 3 in The Nation;
- 3 in Clarence-Rockland, and;
- 0 in East Hawkesbury.
Another EOHU media briefing was expected on Friday.