It's likely COVID-19 variants have arrived in EOHU

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This article has been edited to update the map above to the correct date.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit catchment area has added 10 new cases of COVID-19— and, possibly, two variants of the virus.

Regional medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, in a late-Thursday afternoon regularly-scheduled media briefing, said the EOHU is looking at two possible variants of concern that may have arrived in the region, and it’s likely a press release will be issued on Friday when further test results are available.

“We’re looking into it, and again, I’m not surprised, we’ve always been worried about variants, and it’s just a matter of time (before they’re here),” he said. “It’s another reason for all of us to be extra cautious as we go forward.”

Roumeliotis later in his briefing said the EOHU’s statistics page will ultimately be separating the numbers on variant cases from the cases that have been reported for the last 11 months. The latest numbers, released on Thursday afternoon, indicate there are still over 100 active cases in the area, up by six to 108.

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Four of the 10 newest cases are in Cornwall, three are in SDG and three in Prescott-Russell. On Wednesday, 38 new cases were disclosed, including 23 in the northern portion of Akwesasne. Many of the new cases had been confirmed by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne health services earlier this week, but not integrated into EOHU numbers until Wednesday.

Still, Roumeliotis said the numbers continue to be stable in the health unit area, the rolling average having the region in Orange and close to the Yellow boundary.

He said there’s been no meeting this week with the province’s chief medical officer, so the region will stay at the same level for a little while, which is fine with the doctor – “I’d be comfortable staying in Orange another week,” he said.

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The jurisdiction with the most active cases is Cornwall, with 26, followed by Akwesasne, (22), South Stormont (20), Alfred and Plantagenet (8), Clarence-Rockland (8), The Nation (6), South Glengarry (5), North Glengarry (4), Russell (3), South Dundas (2), Casselman (1), Champlain (1), Hawkesbury (1) and North Dundas (1). There are no active cases in North Stormont or East Hawkesbury.

The latest numbers include the cumulative number of local cases over the past 11 months at 2,769. And, while the death toll from the virus remains at 67, the number of individuals hospitalized rose to five, with one in ICU.

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Nearly 2,600 cases have been resolved, and the number of tests conducted increased to 109,616.

Vaccines administered remained at 5,921 in the latest release, as did the number of institutional outbreaks (eight) and resolved outbreaks (67).

On the outbreak situation, Roumeliotis reviewed some numbers from what’s been a devastating one in the area, at Woodland Villa in Long Sault. He said that of the 49 positive cases among residents, 11 are active, and that there are currently two who are hospitalized. There’ve been six deaths at Woodland Villa. Of the 18 positive staff members, eight cases remain active.

Roumeliotis said there’ve been nine cases in regional schools since in-classroom learning resumed.

As for the vaccination process, the doctor said information on clinics across the region will soon be released, for a next phase that will focus in residents living across the region who are 80 or older. Roumeliotis said the vaccinating of that demographic group is to begin “imminently.”

thambleton@postmedia.com

twitter.com/FreeholderTodd


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