Health Unit Officials Concerned About COVID Variants

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As we head into May, the biggest concern for local health unit officials are the COVID-19 variants.

"We definitely would like to see a decrease in the transmission rate and with the variants of concern, it is a huge risk," says Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed.

He says some of the variants don't respond well to the vaccine, which is cause for concern.

"If the spread continues on, that means we are giving this virus an opportunity to further set a strong foothold in our region and lead to ongoing transmission."

With the provincial Stay at Home order in place until at least May 20, Dr. Ahmed says our numbers are still pretty high to warrant starting to open things back up.

"Our weekly case rate is still 82.9 per cent and if we look at our provincial framework, that means we are close to a lockdown anyway," he says. "We are well into the red, restrictive zone and that means that the risk to our community is high."

Of the total 15,434 cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex since the pandemic begain, the health unit reports 884 of those are variants of concern — 90 per cent of which are the U.K. Variant (B.1.1.7), two cares are the South African Variant (B.1.35 ) and three cases are the Brazilian Variant (P.1).

Dr. Ahmed says it is a positive sign that more vaccine will be flowing to our region with age groups eligible for the vaccine also opening up.

From April 1 to April 29, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 1,543 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths, compared to 905 confirmed cases in March and 21 deaths.