Vaccinations in long-term care home residents in Niagara were completed last Thursday, and those in high-risk retirement homes will be in the coming days.
That will put a pause to vaccinations in Niagara until more vaccine arrives.
Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting chief medical officer of health, says there is sufficient vaccine in Niagara for the high-risk retirement homes, and he expects to have enough arrive before for it’s time for second doses.
“The earliest anyone would get a second dose would be Feb. 3. We’re hoping we’ll get vaccine in the next week and a half and we’ll be able to start giving second doses by then.”
The number of new cases in Niagara Long Term Care Residence on Wellington Street has been stabilizing, which is good news, he says, but it’s “unfortunate it has taken as long as it has.”
A provincial website has Niagara Long Term Care Residence with 55 residents and 19 staff members still active cases, which means several more have been resolved, and are past their 14-day period, with fewer new cases.
Pleasant Manor Retirement Village is listed as having five staff members, and fewer than five residents, infected with COVID on Tuesday.
Overall, the number of new cases on a daily bases in Niagara is coming down, under control as a result of the provincial shut-down and stay-at-home order. Being farther past the holiday time, when people were socializing more, is also helping to stabilize cases, says Hirji.
“I think we’re seeing good progress, but cases are still really high, and we need to keep this up for at least a few more weeks, until numbers come down to a lower level.”
The region won’t be getting any additional vaccine, until at least next week, which is why vaccinations of staff have stopped at this point, he says, although, “if there are a few left-over vaccinations at long-term care and retirement homes, it will be given to staff rather than waste it.”
Early this week, for the first time throughout the pandemic, Niagara-on-the-Lake had the distinction of having highest percentage of active cases per 10,000 in the region, with the number of infected staff and residents in the Wellington Street long term care home skewing the numbers, he says.
It happened in the spring in Niagara Falls and Welland, “and we’re unfortunately now seeing that in Niagara-on-the-Lake.”
It dropped the next day, and by Tuesday the total in town from the beginning was 261 people infected, and 93 active cases.
Although retailers were targeted for ministry of labour inspections during a sweep across the region this weekend, Hirgi says that with some exceptions, there hasn’t been a large number of retailers experiencing outbreaks.
To that he added a few caveats, including that contact tracing might miss an outbreak.
“We try to trace where people have been, and we look for patterns,” he says. “But if five people who have tested positive have been to the same store, did they become infected there, or were they just at that store?”
One of the rationales for closing non-essential retail stores is to try to get people to stay home, he says. If you close non-essential stores, people don’t go shopping, or anywhere else afterwards.
And keeping people home is helping to bring down the number of new infections.
Across the region, nothing else has changed, he says, “and we’re not expecting any changes, but you never know what surprises there may be for us.”