Vaccination is not enough to prevent local surge

Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed on April 15, 2021. (Photo a screenshot of daily WECHU update on YouTube)

Of the 452 active cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex right now, 28 per cent involve a variant of concern.

Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed said it is indicative of how fast variants are spreading in the community. The variants spread faster, and of the 93 new cases reported Thursday, 36 are from close contact with another confirmed case while 28 were community-acquired.

There is one case related to travel to Michigan, another linked to an outbreak, and public health officials are still attempting to find out where another 27 people were infected.

“I still believe we can avoid a major surge in cases in Windsor-Essex,” said Ahmed. “We need to stick to our public health precautions until our coverage rate is high enough, and our transmission level is low enough.”

Ontario reached a new record high Thursday with 4,736 cases. Six out of the last seven days, the province has had more than 4,000 new infections. The death toll also reached a high not seen in some time. Seventy-three people have succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours.

“We can not rely completely on the vaccination to prevent these cases,” said Ahmed. “The vaccines help — but our actions define how quickly the virus spreads in our community.”

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit has administered 124,594 doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Oxford-AstraZeneca shot so far. However, Ahmed told reporters a third of all new cases, sometimes 50 per cent, are now linked to a variant of concern. He admitted he is somewhat worried about the rate of those cases outpacing the vaccine rollout.

WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette on April 15, 2021. (Photo a screenshot of daily WECHU update on YouTube)

WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette on April 15, 2021. (Photo a screenshot of daily WECHU update on YouTube)

CEO Theresa Marentette said allocations of the vaccine from the province have been steady over the past few weeks. She said the region is receiving 10,530 Pfizer doses and between 3- and 5,000 from Moderna. Pharmacies that ran out are getting more of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On Friday, the health unit plans to vaccinate 300 staff and inmates at the Southwest Detention Centre. Staff who are not at the regional jail on that day can book an appointment for a shot at a mass vaccination clinic.

Marentette also expected about 2,000 Special Education workers, who booked appointments this week, should be vaccinated by the end of Friday. Those classified as “high” or “highest risk” because of chronic health conditions are getting their shots now, and she hinted she would have more to say soon about those considered “at risk.”