Dr. Miriam Klassen marks grim anniversary in COVID-19 battle
BY DENNY SCOTT
Monday marked a solemn occasion for Dr. Miriam Klassen, the Medical Officer of Health for Huron and Perth Counties, as it was one year since the area’s first COVID-19-linked fatality.
During a teleconference hosted by Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH), Klassen said that, since then, 49 other individuals have died due to the disease, many of whom were in long-term care or retirement homes.
She said the moment should remind everyone that, even though vaccines are coming and case numbers may be low in Huron and Perth Counties, the COVID-19 virus is deadly and could cause more pain and problems if steps like hand hygiene, wearing a mask and physical distancing aren’t taken. Those rules are especially important with the coming Easter holiday weekend, she said.
Klassen also spoke to vaccine hesitancy, specifically with what the AstraZeneca company is facing regarding its vaccine, which has been linked to blood clotting problems in rare occasions.
She said that, while the vaccines for COVID-19 have been brought to the public faster than most other vaccines, no safety steps were skipped. She said steps in the process may have happened simultaneously and other steps were accelerated to make the vaccines available, but all steps were taken, including after-market research that is following the vaccines currently.
Locally, COVID-19 case counts have increased by 13 over the past week, climbing from 1,401 on March 22 to 1,414 on March 29. All but one of those new cases are in Perth County.
In Huron County, only South Huron increased its cumulative case count, having one new case reported over the past week, bringing its total to 104 since the pandemic began. All other Huron County municipalities stayed at the same case count from last week, including Huron East (101), Central Huron (53), North Huron (46), Morris-Turnberry (45), Bluewater (36), Howick (35), Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (23) and Goderich (19).
In Perth County, Stratford saw its case count climb by seven cumulative cases, bringing its pandemic-long total to 357. North Perth reported one new case, bringing its total to 349. Perth South climbed two cases to 42 while West Perth also climbed two cases to 33. Perth East (138) and St. Marys (33) remained at the same case count as last week.
Sixteen active cases remain active throughout the area, including six in Stratford, three each in Perth South and South Huron, two in West Perth and one each in North Perth and Central Huron.
There are currently 73 individuals in isolation in Huron and Perth Counties and there have been 4,056 isolation orders placed since Aug. 13, when the HPPH first reported that information publicly.
Over the past week, over 6,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by HPPH, bringing the total to 17,451 administered first and second doses.
Since January of last year, 117,730 COVID-19 tests have been performed across Huron and Perth Counties, according to HPPH.
Ritz Lutheran Villa in West Perth has the only active COVID-19 outbreak across Huron and Perth Counties with a single staff member having tested positive. The outbreak was declared on March 27 and, as of press time, is still considered active.
Likely acquisition sources of the virus in Huron and Perth Counties continue to be primarily linked to outbreaks and household contacts with those categories claiming 29 and 27 per cent of all cases, respectively. Close contact represents 16.9 per cent of cases, while travel is responsible for 1.2 per cent. Unknown vectors are responsible for 25.9 per cent of likely acquisition.
With two days left in the month as of Monday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties in March was at 60, the lowest of the past five months, however higher than every month that preceded the significant spikes seen in November and December of 2020 and January and February of this year.
For more information, visit hpph.ca.