Active case count drops below 70; first time since March

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The number of cases of COVID-19 active in Hastings-Prince Edward has, for the first time since March, dropped below 70.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health’s daily update showed 68 active cases.

Twenty new recoveries were announced Monday plus two new cases, both in Belleville.

There were 42 active cases in Belleville, 13 in Quinte West, nine in Prince Edward County, three in central Hastings County, and one in Tyendinaga Township-Deseronto.

Key statistics also showed significant improvement. The seven-day positivity rate dipped back below two per cent, though only to 1.9 per cent. The two-week average case rate per 100,000 people was 40.1, down from more than 70 last week. The seven-day case rate was 37.4 per 100,000.

The average of high-risk contacts per case remained higher than seen locally through much of the pandemic, with 6.6 contacts per case.

Hospitalizations related to the novel coronavirus remained substantial: 19 people were in local hospitals, with nine of those patients in intensive care and four on ventilators.

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In recent interviews, both Quinte Health Care president and chief executive officer Stacey Daub and health unit CEO Dr. Piotr Oglaza urged the public to stick with pandemic precautions, noting mask-wearing, hand hygiene, distancing, etc. are working.

Daub said she’s concerned people will see improvements in statistics as a sign that predictions of more dire numbers were incorrect. That’s not true, she said.

“I don’t want them to mistake that with a sense that the forecast was wrong,” Daub said.

“It’s just that the public health measures work, and we need to continue those until we have our population vaccinated.”

Oglaza had, earlier this spring, warned against relaxing restrictions too early because other jurisdictions had seen cases increase after brief decreases. And in the last week, that happened in Hastings-Prince Edward: a dip in cases, followed by a brief rise.

“These numbers coming down are higher than they’ve been in December, and in December, everybody was taking it very seriously,” Oglaza said.

“This is not the time to ease the measures completely,” he said, asking people to “redouble their efforts and persevere just a little bit longer.”

Six outbreaks were still underway and by Monday accounted for 33 cases.

The outbreak in Belleville General Hospital’s Quinte 5 unit continued. It involved 14 cases.

Catherine Walker, QHC’s director of communications and organizational development, reported six cases were patients and eight were staff.

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“While not all testing is back yet, some are confirmed VOCs (variants of concern), which is not surprising given the prevalence of VOCs we are seeing in the community,” Walker wrote via e-mail.

The variant behind the outbreak is known as N501, first identified in the United Kingdom, Walker added.

Four of the area’s outbreaks were in Belleville, with one each in Quinte West and Prince Edward County.

The region’s totals since the pandemic began were 944 cases, 867 recoveries, 31 outbreaks, and nine deaths, with 330 cases due to variants of concern.

Thirty-four per cent of residents – 56,847 people – had received their first dose of vaccine. About two per cent, or 4,053 people, were vaccinated fully.

There were 29,631 residents vaccinated in the last four weeks and 5,229 in the previous seven days.

Ontario reported 3,436 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the ninth consecutive day with a new case total of less than 4,000. The seven-day average for daily cases is now 3,577, a figure that’s been on the decline since mid-April.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Ontario dropped by 36 in the last day to 1,925, while those in ICU declined by six to 889. Sixteen more COVID-19 deaths were recorded for an Ontario total to date of 8,118.

On the vaccination front, nearly 5.4 million doses have now been administered in Ontario, including 53,880 Sunday.

  • With files from Postmedia Network and The Canadian Press

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