The coronavirus Delta variant continues to be diagnosed in Brant, with 77 per cent of the confirmed cases last week in those under the age of 30, said Brant’s acting medical officer of health
“The data we continue to receive tells us this variant is more easily transmitted and causes more severe health outcomes than previous dominant variants,” said Dr. Malcolm Lock during his weekly media briefing on Tuesday. “This is why it’s so important for those who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
“We know that our current vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing severe health outcomes and hospitalizations and do offer protection from acquiring the illness.”
Last week there were 69 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brantford-Brant. Fourteen new cases were being reported by the Brant County Health Unit on Tuesday.
The health unit reported 69 active local cases on Tuesday. The Brant Community Health System said it had six people testing positive for COVID who are hospitalized, one of them in the critical care unit.
To date, 25 Brant residents have died of the virus.
The number of cases by vaccination status – monitored since mid-June by the health unit – now shows 70.3 percent of the cases have been in unvaccinated people. Another 15.5 percent of cases are in those with first doses and 14 percent in those fully vaccinated. The health unit said those figures may not represent all cases since the data entry is ongoing but it updates the numbers each Tuesday.
Lock said it’s imperative for residents who haven’t been vaccinated to get their first dose as soon as possible.
“This is especially timely as the province prepares to begin restricting certain settings for unvaccinated individuals beginning Sept. 22,” he said.
The proof-of-vaccination system will cover “higher-risk” indoor spaces where masks can’t be worn at all times, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, banquet halls, convention centres, sports facilities and events, gyms, casinos, bingo halls, concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
Joanne Tober, CEO of the Brant County Health Unit, said the soon to be implemented “vaccine passports” are boosting the number of local residents getting their first COVID-19 shot. About 700 people were vaccinated last week, about half of them were first doses.
As of Sunday, 78 per cent of Brant residents 12 years of age and older had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 72 per cent had completed the two-dose series.
“We continue to operate walk-in clinics at a variety of different locations across Brant,” said Lock. “It has truly never been easier to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”
A schedule for walk-in and pop-up vaccine clinics can be found on the health unit website.
Tober said the health unit is continuing to work with local school boards to set up vaccination clinics at schools.
After one week of in-person classes, five schools were reporting single cases of COVID-19: St. John’s College, Bellview School, James Hillier School, Mt. Pleasant School and Madonna Della Libera.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Lock. “We expected to see an uptick in cases coming from schools. It takes a couple of weeks before we see activity after exposure. We haven’t reached that point yet.”
Tuesday was Lock’s last official public statement. Dr. Rebecca Comley has taken over as Brant’s acting medical officer of health.
An emergency room physician at Brantford General Hospital for the past 10 years, Comley has acted as a consultant for the Public Health Agency of Canada and has completed a master of public health degree.
The Brant County board of health began searching for a permanent acting medical officer of health to replace Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, who left the position in the spring. Urbantke joined the health unit in 2019.
The health board hired Lock, who had been Brant’s medical officer of health for 16 years before retiring in 2019, to fill the position on a temporary basis during the search for a permanent replacement.
Lock said he enjoyed being part of the health unit’s COVID-19 response team, saying their efforts have been “extremely successful.” He also commended the media for conveying public health messaging to the community.
“Without your assistance, our safety recommendations, particularly concerning COVID-19, would not be possible.”