Understanding omicron


By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Fewer tests, less official reporting and the wildly contagious omicron virus have altered the way public health is handling COVID-19.

Although trends indicate a lower number of cases and hospitalizations, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health said current testing methods don’t paint an accurate picture of how many COVID-19 cases are out there.

“Despite us seeing positive signs of moving in the right direction, we need to understand that omicron is still very much around us,” Colby told reporters recently.

“Omicron is so contagious there’s no prospect of community control, you can only control outcomes,” the doctor explained.

The danger of COVID-19 has not passed. A total of three deaths were reported in the past week, bringing the local death toll from the virus to 52 as of Monday.

The way CK Public Health reports on COVID-19 has changed. The number of cases will be posted on the Public Health webpage Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, rather than each day.

It’s no longer a matter or “winning or losing” against COVID-19 Colby said, noting the point is to deal with it and “cope the best you can.”

He pointed out public health measures – such as intensive case management – worked well to contain the virus earlier in the pandemic, but omicron changed the game.

“We had to change gears,” Colby explained, noting the only cases now tracked by public health are those linked to high-risk settings such as long-term care or a group home.

Chatham-Kent Public Health will report on weekly trends on Wednesdays.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths will continue to be reported, but identifying details such as age and sex will no longer be made public. Weekly trends will also be made public.

The number of weekly cases, new cases since the last report, and the seven-day rolling average of cases will also be detailed each Wednesday, along with current

vaccination rates.

Colby said it’s hoped people will continue to come forward to get the shot, adding walk-ins are now being accepted at clinics.

At present, only 45.4 per cent of Chatham-Kent residents aged 18 and up have received a third dose of the vaccine, leaving more than half of the community – many who are not eligible for a booster – at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill.


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