Dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in EOHU

January 6th map showing current COVID-19 case counts (white squares) and overall cases (black squares). (Supplied/Eastern Ontario Health Unit)

CORNWALL – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit reported a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases the past week. New cases of the virus pushed the overall active tally of cases to 511 as of January 6th.

The case numbers increase was surprising to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the EOHU but he noted that the January 4th update was being reviewed as there appeared to be duplicate entries.

“We will correct tomorrow (January 5th),” he told The Leader. “But it will still be quite high, likely around 200.”

Since the January 4th update, which recorded 255 new cases between December 31st and January 4th, additional cases have been added at a rate of over 30 cases per day. One quarter of all new infections are in the City of Cornwall.

That level of active cases would place the EOHU region past the Red – Restrict level and into the Grey – Lockdown level of restrictions under Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 framework. The region is already in lockdown as part of a province-wide 28-day measure that started December 26th.

Roumeliotis said that about three-quarters of the new cases come from close contacts, the remaining one-quarter from workplace settings.

Reacting to people in the region disregarding public health guidance and travelling out of area for family visits and ski trips, Roumeliotis said that the EOHU continues to recommend against these types of travel and activities.

“My message is the more we get cases, the longer the restrictions will last,” he said. “The higher the numbers, the more cases will enter into vulnerable living settings and this is not what we want.”

Roumeliotis said that vaccines are here. “Let’s be a bit more patient as the vaccine marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic. But we still need to be careful in the meantime until a substantial number of people are vaccinated.”

Looking at the numbers, the rolling seven day average peaked on January 3rd with 165.3 cases per 100,000 people. As of the January 6th update, that number had dropped to 153.2 cases per 100,000 people. In comparison, the City of Ottawa reported 64.3 cases per 100,000 people.

More than one-quarter of all new cases in the seven-day period were in the City of Cornwall, which now has 148 active cases. South Dundas has had 16 cases overall, six of which are active.

The reproductive rate of COVID-19 infection for the EOHU region is 1.42, the City of Ottawa’s is 1.29.

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