Waterloo region reports 60 new COVID-19 cases Friday, highest number in the province 3rd day in a row

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported Friday afternoon that the community had 60 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of any public health unit in the province. Toronto had 50 cases.

Waterloo region cases make up 24.5% of all provincial cases

Health Minister Christine Elliott reported Waterloo region had 85 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. That was the highest number of cases reported by any health unit in the province. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Waterloo region had 60 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, public health reported.

There were 528 active cases. There were 51 people with the virus in the region's hospitals, a rise of five from Thursday, with 18 people in the intensive care unit, a rise of three from the previous day.

Earlier in the morning, Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted the region had 85 cases. The numbers are different because the province reports on numbers from the evening before, while the region reports numbers as of 12 a.m.

The region's case numbers were the highest for any health unit in the province. Toronto and Peel region both reported 50 cases. There were 29 in Hamilton and 22 in York region.

The province reported 345 new cases on Friday, meaning the 85 Waterloo region cases reported by the province made up 24.5 per cent of all provincial cases.

'Wide circulation' of delta variant

Waterloo region has had high case numbers this week and health officials say it's largely because of the delta variant, also known as the B1617, which was first detected in India.

"Cases are happening throughout the region," Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, said in a media briefing Friday morning. "There is wide circulation of delta in Waterloo region."

Wang said the actual numbers of delta cases in the region could take weeks to confirm because the province cannot screen for the delta variant yet. Instead, genome sequencing is necessary to confirm the variant.

Wang said while the region's vaccinations rates are below the provincial average, "If we didn't have the immunization rates we already do in Waterloo region, it would have been much worse."

Variants in region

There were 3,517 cases in the region identified as having a mutation or variant. Of those:

  • 3.063 were the B117 variant, or alpha variant, first detected in the U.K., a rise of one case from Thursday.
  • 76 were the B1617 variant, or delta variant, first detected in India, a rise of 31 cases.
  • 60 were the P1 variant first detected in Brazil, which was unchanged.
  • 11 were the B1351 variant first detected in South Africa, which was unchanged.
  • 307 required further testing to determine the variant.

More vaccines coming

The province has offered to send additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the region as well as two mobile vaccination teams that are expected to arrive next week.

In May, the province allocated doses of the vaccine meant for Waterloo region to hot spot areas like Toronto and Peel. Wang said that was "the appropriate thing to do."

"Right now, we are the hottest part of the province and so we need more vaccines," Wang said.

She added as soon as the province was asked to help the region officials responded.

"The important thing is that we continue to advance first and second doses in Waterloo region. We need to focus on the future and we need to focus on building that wall of protection for our community, building it even stronger, and in the meantime, protecting each other by continuing to be very, very diligent with our own public health precautions," Wang said.

Missed appointments

Some people have been booking multiple appointments for second doses, with the region and pharmacies, and not cancelling once they receive a dose.

Shirley Hilton, the head of the region's vaccination taskforce and a deputy chief with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, said so far, the clinics have largely been able to get those allocated doses into arms by calling people who are on a list for last-minute shots.

"As much as I'm happy when people are able to get their vaccines as quickly as possible, sometimes what gets forgotten is the original appointments that they've booked. I continue to encourage people to cancel them," she said. "We're seeing it but our demand is incredibly high right now for second doses as well, so we're able to fill those appointments."

Region of Waterloo Public Health is expected to release local numbers at 1:30 p.m.

9 active outbreaks

There were nine active outbreaks in the region.

There were six at workplaces:

  • Two at trades and related service businesses: One with three cases, one with two cases.
  • Two at general office settings: One with eight cases, one with five cases.
  • One at a food and beverage service business with three cases.
  • One at a chiropody office with two cases.

The other outbreaks were:

  • One at a congregate setting of people who are homeless across multiple locations in Kitchener and Waterloo with 100 cases. That was a rise of 16 cases from the previous day.
  • One at long-term care home The Village at Winston Park with seven cases: Three in staff members, four in people who live at the home.
  • One at Trillium Bilingual Montessori School child care with two cases.