Kitchener-Waterloo

Cases steady in Waterloo region but delta variant remains a 'formidable' opponent

Waterloo region continues to see relatively stable numbers of COVID-19 infections, but the region’s medical officer of health warns that could change at any time.

Fall, winter could be 'difficult' — even for fully vaccinated people — if precautions are dropped

Two young women wear masks while walking down King Street in uptown Waterloo on a sunny spring day in May. Cases of COVID-19 have been fairly stable in Waterloo region in recent weeks, but Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang warned it could be a 'difficult' fall and winter if people don't keep up with public health precautions. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

Waterloo region continues to see relatively stable numbers of COVID-19 infections, but the region's medical officer of health warns that could change at any time. 

"Delta is formidable, and it will spread easily when given the opportunity," said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, speaking at a media briefing Friday. 

It's crucial that people who are fully vaccinated continue to follow the same public health precautions that officials have been encouraging since the outset of the pandemic, Wang said. 

This includes gathering in small groups rather than large ones — and outside rather than inside — as well as staying home and getting tested if you have symptoms. 

"Even for those who are fully vaccinated, without these precautions, we risk a very difficult fall and winter," Wang said. 

Since May 1, transmission through close contact has accounted for more than 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases, Wang said. Close contact generally refers to contact within a household, or close, prolonged contact — often in absence of distancing or masking — such as between friends. 

On Friday, the region reported 18 new cases of COVID-19. There were a 146 active cases total, three fewer than on Thursday. 

There were nine people in hospital Friday and seven active outbreaks. 

The outbreaks include: 

  • A congregate setting, where there was one case. 
  • Glencairn Public School, where there were eight cases among multiple cohorts. 
  • Tait Street Public School, where there were two cases. 
  • A food processing facility, where there were four cases. 
  • A manufacturing/industrial facility, where there were four cases. 
  • Westvale Public School, where there were three cases. 
  • A construction workplace, where there were two cases. 

Vaccination update

Also on Friday, the region reported that 89.2 per cent of eligible residents age 12 and up had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 84 per cent of that population had received both doses. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests many people coming in for their first doses these days have been spurred on by either the province's or their workplace's vaccine mandate, said the region's director of infectious diseases and chief nursing officer. 

"I believe from speaking to nurses and our staff at the clinics, that's what makes up the vast majority of the first doses that are now attending," said David Aoki at Friday's briefing. 

Unvaccinated people face a 25-fold higher risk of being hospitalized and 60-fold higher risk of being in the ICU compared to people who are fully vaccinated, according to the Ontario Science Table

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