Health & Medical

COVID-19: Contagious Delta variant rising in Ontario; 370 new cases reported by province

COVID-19: Contagious Delta variant rising in Ontario; 370 new cases reported by province thumbnail

Author of the article:

Jacquie Miller

A health care worker checks on a woman as she administers the Covid-19 vaccination at the Bill-Durnan Arena in Montreal on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
A health care worker checks on a woman as she administers the Covid-19 vaccination at the Bill-Durnan Arena in Montreal on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

Nearly half of the COVID-19 cases in Ontario are now caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, according to the province’s science advisory table.

While overall COVID-19 case counts in Ontario have been dropping, public health officials have warned that the variant first identified in India is spreading rapidly.

The COVID-19 science table estimates that as of Thursday, 45.9 per cent of cases in the province are caused by variants without the N501Y mutation, of which the most frequent is Delta.

Delta is about 1.5 times more transmissible than Alpha, the variant first identified in Britain, which pushed Ontario into a crushing third wave of the pandemic this spring.

The province’s associate chief medical officer of health has said that Delta is expected to become the dominant variant in Ontario.

It’s spreading just as the province is relaxing pandemic restrictions.

Scientists are debating the impact Delta may have on the province because the number of people vaccinated is also on the rise.

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As of Wednesday, 75 per cent of adults in the province had received one dose of vaccine and 18 per cent have two doses, so are fully vaccinated. Provincial officials were to give another update Thursday on the vaccine rollout.

However, the news from Britain, where Delta rose quickly in a matter of weeks to become the dominant variant, is cautionary.

About 55 per cent of people in England are fully vaccinated with two doses, but cases and hospitalization are on the rise as Delta spreads. This week the government delayed by a month its plans to further ease lockdown restrictions.

A large study published by the U.Ok. government Thursday said that Delta was causing exponential growth in England. Infections increased by 50 per cent since the last study in May and COVID-19 cases are doubling every 11 days.

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“Despite the success of the vaccination rollout, report shows the prevalence of COVID-19 infections was rising rapidly during late May and early June, coinciding with Delta becoming the dominant variant,” said the REACT study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, which tested almost 109,000 volunteers in England between May 20 and June 7 to examine the levels of COVID-19 in the general population.

In Ontario, Delta is suspected to be behind the surge of cases in Waterloo and in northern Ontario’s Porcupine Health region.

The Porcupine health unit maintained some COVID-19 restrictions on June 11 when the rest of the province moved into Step 1 of the reopening plan.

The remote northern Ontario community of Kashechewan First Nation, where most adults are fully vaccinated, is now battling a surge of COVID-19 cases. Most of those infected are children under 12 who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated and teenagers who have either not been vaccinated or have only one dose.

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Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Wednesday there were 232 active cases in the community.

While Delta has caused significant outbreaks in some places, it is not driving significant community spread across the province, Ontario vaccination officials said at a briefing Thursday.

Officials said it will be important to make sure people in Delta hot spots are vaccinated quickly.

Ontario has accelerated eligibility for second doses of vaccine to 10 hot spots where Delta variant is spreading: Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York. That will be expanded on June 23 to Delta hot spots of Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka and Durham, allowing adults who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna on or before May 30 to book an accelerated second dose.

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The province also revealed at a briefing Thursday more details on its campaign to vaccinate teenagers before school resumes next fall.

So far 48 per cent of Ontario youth aged 12 to 17 have had one dose. Plans call for that age group to be eligible to book a second dose between Aug. 9 and Aug. 22.

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Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for that age group. Several companies are working on trials of vaccines for younger children but none have been approved.

Ontario reported 370 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The most cases were in Toronto (67), Waterloo (57) and Peel (47).

There were seven new deaths reported in the province.

The province reported 397 people in hospital with the disease and 362 people in intensive care, 232 of them on ventilators.

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Ontario also reported record vaccinations for the second day in a row, with 210,611 doses administered, for a total of 11,943,025 doses.

Latest COVID-19 news in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health reported 32 new cases of the virus on Thursday and no new deaths.

That brought the total number of cases to 27,513 since the pandemic began. The death toll remains unchanged at 586.

There were 14 people in hospital, with four of them in intensive care.

No new outbreaks were reported on Thursday. There are currently six ongoing outbreaks in health care or congregate living facilities, one in child care/schools and two community outbreaks.

In closely watched indicators, the rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is 17.4 and the percent positivity in testing is 3.6. The reproductive number, which indicates the number of people who could be reinfected by a COVID-19 patient is 0.90. A number lower than 1.0 indicates the virus is receding in the community.

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Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec reported recorded 161 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday morning.

Hospitalizations continue to fall with 178 people in hospital, 14 fewer than the previous count. Of them, 41 are in intensive care, four fewer than Wednesday.

The number of people in hospitals and ICU is the lowest since September.

In addition, one new death was reported. It occurred before June 10.

There were nine new cases reported in the Outaouais, bringing the total to 12,403 since the pandemic began. The death toll remains unchanged at 214.

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The province administered 93,839 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 373,531 cases and 11,178 deaths linked to COVID-19.

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A total of 360,779 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.

Latest COVID-19 news in Canada

Canada will receive a donation of one million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Thursday.

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response co-ordinator, said the donation won’t cost Canada anything, and will be on top of the 44 million doses Canada has purchased directly from Moderna.

It comes less than a week after Canada promised to donate 13 million doses to the COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance, which will entirely come from the remaining share of doses Canada had purchased from COVAX itself.

Canada has been heavily criticized for buying three times as many doses of COVID-19 vaccine than it needs and not sharing any doses from its own direct purchase agreements with vaccine makers.

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-with files from Postmedia and the Canadian Press

jmiller@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JacquieAMiller

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