EOHU instances of COVID-19 variant up 15% in three weeks

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit office at 1000 Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The region’s top doctor is troubled by the rapidly increasing number of cases of the highly-transmissible COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs).

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says the percentage of all positive cases that are VOCs has increased from 13.6 per cent three weeks ago (Feb. 25) to 28.4 per cent during the last week.

Now he believes it’s a race against getting people vaccinated and the spread of variant cases.

There are now 40 confirmed variant cases spread across the region – all but one of them are presumed to be the B117 U.K. variant. That’s up from 25 on Thursday (March 11).

While the Eastern Ontario Health Unit percentage of variant cases is rising rapidly, it’s still below the provincial average of 40 per cent.

Some of those variant cases are at Chartwell McConnell Manor in Cornwall, which is in the midst of an outbreak.

Roumeliotis says there are 11 active resident cases with three in hospital. Nine of the 11 cases are variants. There are eight active staff cases and six of them are VOCs.

There were 35 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend – 21 in Cornwall, six in SD&G, six in Prescott-Russell and two in Akwesasne. Most of them are “cluster cases,” he said.

Vaccines

After encountering “multiple problems” locally with the provincial system Monday morning, Roumeliotis says “some of the kinks have been ironed out” and people born in 1941 or older should be able to book a vaccine appointment.

The doctor says there will be “growing pains” with the Ontario system but he’s confident it will be able to handle future traffic.

There are six mass vaccination clinics set up across the EOHU area.

Roumeliotis hopes to have 50,000 people in the region get the shot by the time the health unit completes the second phase of vaccination. It’s still at the end of the first phase.

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