Hamilton Hospitals CEO and Niagara’s top doctor say COVID-19 precautions must continue


By Nathan Sager

Published on March 28, 2022 at 10:22 p.m.

Niagara Regional Public Health’s Acting Medical Officer of Health applauds businesses that keep proof of vaccination for entry. (Picture: Twitter)

The chief executive of Hamilton’s largest hospital system and Niagara Region’s acting chief medical officer of health warn that protection against the spread of COVID-19 must continue.

Monday marked a week to the day since masking became optional in most indoor public places in Ontario. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) President and CEO Rob MacIsaac noted in a tweet that the health system’s increase in the number of health care workers self-isolating due to concerns over the COVID-19 is “probably a good reflection” of local virus activity.

The HHS website says 285 employees are self-isolating. St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton reports 109 employees self-isolating.

“The number of HHS employees isolating themselves from work due to COVID is on the rise again, but not to the extremes we’ve seen previously,” wrote MacIsaac, who last week warned of an increase in hospitalizations. in Hamilton. “That’s probably a good reflection of what’s happening in our community in terms of new infections.

“It’s good evidence of the idea of ​​continuing to wear masks, getting COVID reminders, and socializing outdoors rather than indoors whenever possible. If you are sick, stay home.

There were 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton on Monday. There have been 52 reported in the Niagara region, which includes the communities of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland. However, the province’s chief medical officer, Dr Kieran Moore, acknowledged that the number of cases could be skewed by up to 90 per cent due to the government’s limited access to PCR tests.

With these elements and data in play, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, who is the Niagara Region’s interim Department of Health, has called on public health units to reopen testing to people age 50 and older. Most deaths associated with COVID-19 are in older adults, although hospitalizations of young children with COVID-19 also exceeded the number in the first 22 months of the pandemic.

“We also have unused testing (and) therapeutic capacity,” Dr. Hirji wrote in response to a tweet from Dr. David Fisman, former Ontario science table member. “Let’s open up testing again to everyone (50+ and) back to routine testing if there are symptoms.

“Currently, people are getting very sick before seeking treatment and it is too late for outpatient treatment. Test (those over 50) right away and get treatment.

As safety measures have been relaxed by provincial governments and cities across Canada, testing for COVID-19 has also been reduced. Canada, in general, appears to be testing much less for COVID-19 than other high-income countries.

On Monday, Dr. Tara Moriarty, an associate professor and researcher in infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, said Canada had conducted less than one COVID-19 test per 1,000 people in the past seven days for which data are available. That’s 50-90% fewer tests than countries like Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the United States.

“Quite shameful with the new wave here,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty was lead author on the working group of a peer-reviewed study on excess deaths during the pandemic that was published by the Royal Society of Canada. She drew heavy criticism from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe after he said the true number of COVID-19 deaths in the Prairie province could be up to seven times higher than the tally government official.

Meanwhile, Ontario has 655 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. That’s an increase of 102 from Sunday. There are 158 patients in the intensive care unit with COVID-19, one more than the previous day.

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