Signs Windsor-Essex 'starting to turn the corner' in Omicron wave, but experts are cautious
COVID-19 in waste water samples has varied in recent weeks
The tides might be turning in Windsor-Essex's Omicron wave as hospitalizations drop slightly, but local experts remain cautious.
The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 may have hit a peak, as numbers are now starting to decline, according to Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad.
"It may be too soon to tell, but it's looking like the spread of Omicron in Windsor-Essex is starting to turn the corner a bit," Saad told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning Thursday.
But Saad cautions that amid talks of reopening, the province should do so at a "slow and steady" pace. On Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that some restrictions will start to ease on Jan. 31.
"If we are going to open up, I would start with a certain amount, see what kind of impact it has over a week or two, then open up a little bit further, wait a week or two," Saad said.
"I would hate to see us go backwards, so I would rather open up slowly than open up fully and then have to backtrack."
Earlier this week, Saad said the hospital reached a peak of around 107 COVID-19 patients, but that number has now dropped to 96.
He said since they are testing everyone, these are people who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic.
Of these patients, nine are in the intensive care unit — a number that is lower than what was seen in previous waves, Saad said.
According to data from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) Thursday, there are 125 people in hospitals across the region. Since Jan. 14, WECHU has also reported a total of 16 new deaths.
Saad said people who died from the disease were either unvaccinated or vaccinated, but also had significant underlying health conditions.
He said people need to be "cautiously optimistic," but he does think that cases will start to drop in the coming weeks.
LISTEN: Saad talks about what the Omicron situation looks like in Windsor-Essex
"This COVID pandemic just keeps throwing surprises at us with mutation after mutation ... I do think that the worst is behind us," he said.
Another good indicator of the burden of disease in the community has been waste water samples.
Researcher Mike McKay, who has been doing this work, said the amount of COVID-19 in water samples has varied in recent weeks.
"It's bouncing around, we're hearing from other jurisdictions in the province, other places in North America speaking of levels in waste water appearing to have plateaued," said McKay, who is the executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor.
"I think we're still a little bit early to make that prediction here in Windsor," he told Windsor Morning on Tuesday.
McKay said his team takes samples in Windsor five days a week.