Hamilton public health reported another 201 new COVID-19 cases on the weekend and city’s 405th death tied to the pandemic on Monday.
Health officials learned of the death last Wednesday and say it was a person in their 70s who had contracted the virus.
Active cases surpassed the 500 mark on the weekend, moving from a reported 495 on Friday to 569 on Monday. Over 76 per cent of those are among people under 50 and about 47 per cent in those 29 and under.
It’s the first time in almost three months Hamilton has had over 500 active cases when public health reported 505 on June 1.
The city still has the second largest number of tests returning positive for COVID-19 from Ontario labs according to IC/ES data taken from the week of Aug. 15.
The rate is now at 6.5 per cent which is only behind Windsor-Essex — recording 8.97 per cent a week ago.
A specialist on public health and preventive medicine in Ontario says generally the province’s ICUs are holding out “well” despite seeing 694 new cases from the weekend.
Dr. Barry Pakes with the University of Toronto says a steady increase in hospitalizations over the last month after Ontario entered Step 3 of the Ford government’s reopening plan is of particular concern considering the end of summer is near.
“That’s really the concerning thing, is that they’re building towards the end of the summer now and then during the fall when we all get back indoors, which is a more risky environment,” Pakes told Global News.
“Those hospital and ICU numbers, they lag. So they’re going to be increasing four to five weeks or six weeks after the increase in cases.”
Ontario reported 226 people in general hospital wards with COVID-19 with 160 patients in intensive care units (up by two from the previous day) and 93 patients in ICUs on a ventilator (down by five).
Hamilton has a total of 54 patients in city hospitals as of Monday which dropped by two over the weekend. Despite the decline, Hamilton Health Sciences said one of its current cases had to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).
Two outbreaks were declared over on the weekend at ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Camp Kidaca at the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre. Both had just two COVID cases each during their surges that lasted 12 and 11 days, respectively.
Hamilton now has 14 current outbreaks which includes 51 cases at Sizzle night club, 27 tied to six workplaces, 17 cases from three summer camps, 16 at three city centre shelters and a pair of cases at the Clarion nursing home in Stoney Creek.
Ontario reported that 167 of its 694 cases reported on Monday were breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated individuals.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told Global News that some public perception categorizes those cases as a failure in the vaccine program, which he suggests is not the case.
Bogoch told Global News that when the pandemic began and the prospect of vaccines were being discussed as a way out, researchers were well aware that breakthrough cases would be expected since generally no inoculation is perfect in covering everyone.
“I think maybe as a medical and scientific profession, we haven’t done a good job explaining this to people,” Bogoch said.
“The whole point of these vaccines is to, yes, of course, reduce the risk of people getting infected, but we know they’re not a bulletproof vest. People are still going to get infected. The main goal is to keep you from getting sick, landing in hospital and dying.”
Over 72.2 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated as of data released on Aug. 29. That puts Hamilton ahead of five other health units which have lower numbers of fully vaccinated residents.
As of Monday, the city is still behind the provincial average — 76.1 per cent of the eligible (12 and older) population.
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