COVID variants, hospitalizations on the rise in C-K

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There is now about a 90-per-cent chance that positive COVID-19 cases are one of the variants, according to Chatham-Kent’s top doc.

On Thursday morning, CK Public Health reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 and eight resolved, bringing the active total up to 83. Out of those active cases, 57 have been found to be variants.

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said in all of Southern Ontario, the proportion of positives that are variable strain is now at 89.2 per cent.

“So I issued a memorandum yesterday to instruct my staff, the physicians of Chatham-Kent and the hospital, to know that we should consider all isolates as variants from now on because there’s a 90-per-cent chance that they are,” he said.

The main variant that has been found in Ontario is the B 1.1.7. variant (frequently referred to as “the U.K. variant”).

“These variants all are more easily spread than what I’ll call the wild type that we’ve been dealing with for most of the last year,” Colby said. “It’s just been a few short weeks this has just rocketed to the forefront.”

Colby said there is a second gene sequence found in the P.1 and B.1.3.5.1 variants known as the “escape sequence.” People that have either been previously infected or vaccinated are more likely to get infected with the variant strain that has the escaped mutation.

“But I really want to have everyone know that all of the vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are 100 per cent effective in terms of preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death,” he said.

Patient discharged after 80 days in hospital

A COVID-19 patient was discharged on Thursday morning after more than 80 days at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA).

“They started out in the Intensive Care Unit, they then moved to our COVID unit, and then today they went home from our rehab unit,” said Lori Marshall, president and CEO of CKHA.

There are currently seven patients, five of which are locals, hospitalized at CKHA. Two are in the ICU and one is ventilated. Marshall said while those numbers “appear small at this stage” the hospital remains concerned with those numbers growing.

“And if you think about those 80 days, and how that compares to a normal average length of stay in the hospital of seven days, you can see that there is a dramatic difference,” she said. “We’re concerned with how long COVID patients do take to recover when they are in hospital so that adds to some of this.”

Marshall added that CKHA has also seen a dramatic reduction in the age group hospitalized, which has gone down to 63. The youngest person hospitalized has been 50 years old.

“That is very different than during the first or second wave in terms of the profile of admission to hospital,” she said. “So it is important for us all to really pay attention to what is happening provincially and to keep our community safe.”

3 C-K pharmacies added to AstraZeneca rollout

Effective immediately, select pharmacies across the province are booking appointments for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for eligible people ages 55 or older. Rexall, located on 401 St. Clair St. in Chatham; MacTavish Pharmacy, 480 St. George St. in Dresden; and Shoppers Drug Mart, on 420 Queen St. in Chatham, have all been added to the provincial list of approved pharmacies in its roll out. Residents must have an appointment to get vaccinated with a participating pharmacy.

Colby said this is the beginning of a transition to move the COVID vaccines into pharmacies and primary care practitioners with the bulk of the vulnerable population being inoculated.

“But we have no plans to close the mass vaccination centre at the Bradley Clinic, or our outreach programs that serve the housebound and we’ll be operating what we’re calling pop-up clinics in some of the other communities in Chatham-Kent, he said.

Colby said he does not know how many Astra Zeneca vaccines were allocated to pharmacies, however, 300 doses were given to public health to distribute among primary-care practitioners.

By the end of the day on April 1, 25 per cent of Chatham-Kent residents over the age of sixty will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Long-term care and retirement home residents have been boosted with their second doses, according to Colby.

 

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