WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is reporting 299 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend (Dec. 17 to 19).
That is the highest ever weekend total in the region. The previous record for a regular weekend was 278, set on April 12 (there were 297 cases reported over the five-day Easter long weekend this year).
Active cases in the region have more than doubled in one week, rising to 536 as of Dec. 20, a level last seen at the end of April.
Current cases have far surpassed cases at this time least year, when there were 297 active cases in the region.
The case rate per 100,000 population has, as of Dec. 18, rocketed to 135.9 from 64.7 last week and 36.5 two weeks ago.
The rate of COVID-19 tests returning positive for the virus has also increased significantly, from 4.2% on Dec. 9 to 6.2% as of Dec. 16.
The region’s effective reproduction number, used to measure how many additional cases spread or result from a single case, has increased slightly from 1.16 to 1.19 between Dec. 11 and 18. A value of one or above means cases will increase; below one and spread will eventually cease.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region is also growing, with seven individuals hospitalized with the virus, of which two are in an ICU as of Dec. 18. Vaccination statuses are not disclosed.
According to provincial data, as of the morning of Dec. 20, there are 196 unvaccinated persons hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, of which 75 are in an ICU.
Two-dose vaccinated individuals account for 121 hospitalizations across the province, with 33 in an ICU.
Omicron variant breakdown
WDGPH identified the region’s first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant on Dec. 9 in a fully-vaccinated Guelph male aged 12 to 20.
According to Public Health Ontario (PHO) data, as of Dec. 18, there has been a single Omicron case identified through whole genome sequencing in the health region.
Probable Omicron cases – cases not yet identified by whole genome sequencing – have reached 30 in WDGPH region as of Dec. 11, according to PHO data.
Probable cases are determined by looking for the absence of certain amino acids (molecules), in method known as “spike gene target failure,” because nearly all of the mutated COVID-19 Omicron specimens processed by PHO labs as of Dec. 6 have a “deletion of amino acid position H69 and V70 within the spike protein.”
An unspecified portion of the cases with ‘S’ gene target failure will be sent for whole genome sequencing, depending on the viral load of the test specimen.
WDGPH estimates Omicron represents 30% of all COVID-19 cases between Dec. 11 and 17 in the health region.
Wellington County had 86 newly-confirmed cases over the weekend reporting period, with 147 active cases in the county as of Dec. 20.
That is the highest total yet for active cases in Wellington County (the previous record was 122, set on April 19).
There are 269 active cases in Guelph and 106 in Dufferin County as of Dec. 20.
There haven’t been any additional deaths since the health unit reported a new COVID-19 related death last week.
As of Dec. 20, there have been 128 deaths attributed to the virus across the WDGPH region, including 38 in Wellington County.
Since Dec. 13, another 834 people have become two-dose vaccinated in the WDGPH region, bringing the total as of Dec. 20 to 240,946 or 81.7% of the population aged five or older.
There are 15,549 people aged five are older in the region who have received their first dose, as of Dec. 20.
According to Ontario’s COVID-19 Advisory Science Table data, as of Dec. 19, there were 442 new cases every day per million people in those unvaccinated, compared with 218 cases per day in those fully vaccinated.
The data concludes there’s a 51% risk reduction of contracting a case with two vaccine doses. The reduction in the risk of being hospitalized with two doses is 93%.
In Wellington County 80.7% of eligible residents, including those aged five to 11, are two-dose vaccinated as of Dec. 20.
Less than 7,372 of Mapleton’s 10,532 residents (70%) have received a single vaccine dose, making the municipality the leader for the lowest vaccine uptake in the county.
Across the region, there are an estimated 11,633 high school students who are vaccinated with two doses; 294 with only a single dose; and 2,056 students who have not yet received a single dose.
In elementary schools in the WDGPH catchment area, there are an estimated 30,046 students who are now eligible for vaccination.
Of that group, 15,173 elementary students are at least vaccinated with a single dose as of Dec. 20. From that group, there are an estimated 5,318 elementary students who are fully vaccinated.
The remaining 14,873 students have not yet received a single dose.
As of the morning of Dec. 20, 40 schools within the WDGPH catchment area have reported 115 active cases.
Outbreaks have been declared at three Guelph elementary schools, three Guelph high schools, one Wellington County elementary school, one county high school and a private daycare in Dufferin County.
A previously declared outbreak at the Sunflower daycare in Orangeville was declared over on Dec. 16.
An outbreak has also been declared at the Palmerston and District Hospital as of Dec. 7, with three hospitalized patients and three staff members testing positive for the virus.