'Significant jump' as 42 new COVID-19 cases recorded in Waterloo region

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 42 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That's a 'significant jump,' says acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.

Region to move to 'protect' level of province's COVID-19 framework

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang is Waterloo region's acting medical officer of health. She says Waterloo region's COVID-19 cases have not spiked because people are doing a good job of following public health guidelines, like wearing a mask, keeping a distance of at least two meters from people outside their household and washing their hands often. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 42 new cases of COVID-19 in Waterloo region on Friday.

"The numbers we will report today will represent a significant jump," Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said during a media briefing Friday prior to the new numbers being released.

Regional Chair Karen Redman says the region was anticipating it will move to the "protect" or yellow level of the province's new colour-coded system for COVID-19. That will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The province confirmed Waterloo region, as well as Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, are now in the "yellow" or "protect" category.

The province's framework describes the "protect" level as including "enhanced targeted enforcement, fines, and enhanced education to limit further transmission."

Wang says the region already has restrictions in place that align with the "yellow" category and she says she "fully supports" the region being placed in that category. 

COVID-19 numbers in the region

The region has recorded 2,295 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 2,005 of those marked as resolved.

There were 169 active cases in the region as of Friday, a jump from 148 on Thursday, with seven people listed as being in hospital.

There were nine active outbreaks listed on the region's website, including three at long-term care homes, three at local schools, two at daycares and one associated with a wedding where there are 18 cases.

Ontario reported 1,003 new cases on Friday.

More cases expected

Earlier in the day in an interview on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition, Wang said she expected to see cases tick upwards in the region.

"It's not entirely surprising because we have seen cases continue to rise across Ontario, many places in Ontario, and we have been stable for a while which has been due to the excellent efforts of our residents," Wang said.

Wang says with colder weather on the way, people will be spending more time inside which could lead to cases rising. As well, Waterloo region has links to areas like Toronto, where cases have increased rapidly.

She says people will need to be diligent to keep cases low in the region.

"Anytime the cases go up, the risk is that they will go up in an accelerated way and that would be problematic," Wang said.

People relaxing around people they know

This week, an outbreak was declared where 18 cases were linked to a wedding in the region. Wang says this has been an issue across the province, where people are gathering for family events like this, but not taking precautions like wearing a mask or keeping their distance.

"It's a really important reminder for people that large gatherings, especially in closed spaces where you're in close proximity to others, is a high risk factor and people should not let their guard down, even with people that they are familiar with, their friends and family," she said.

"This is what we're seeing most often: People seem to let their guard down when they're with people that they know."

Wang says it's not just in social settings. Workers may be diligent in following guidelines while working with clients or on the floor of a manufacturing facility, but then relax in a break room, which is resulting in transmission of the virus between co-workers.

The region reported on Friday that two people were given tickets for $880 for violating the provincial orders for gathering. Both were in Waterloo, one on Oct. 31 and one on Nov. 1, and the people were attending events at private residences.

Flu shot demand

People waiting for an appointment to get a flu shot in the region are not alone.

"I, myself, am waiting for my appointment," Wang said.

The demand "has been wonderful" but unfortunately, it's outpacing supply, Wang said as she urged people to be patient.

"I really appreciate that people want their flu shots," she said. "I know it's frustrating but I would just ask people to continue to get an appointment ahead of time with a pharmacy or your family doctor and wait for the supply to come in."

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang:


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