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COVID-19: Local outbreaks begin to subside as officials forecast ‘quiet summer’ in Ontario

The sixth wave outbreaks in Huron and Perth counties continue to decline as Ontario public health experts begin to predict the next stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The sixth wave outbreaks in Huron and Perth counties continue to decline as Ontario public health experts begin to predict the next stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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There were five active outbreaks in the region on Wednesday, up from nine at this point last week, Huron Perth public health data showed. Four of these outbreaks are in local nursing and retirement homes.

An outbreak at Stratford General Hospital, still considered active on Wednesday, is under control, hospital officials said Tuesday. The medical department at Stratford General has reopened for admission and access for caregivers has been restored.

Huron-Perth’s latest COVID-related death was recorded on Friday. That death, the 110th in the region since the pandemic began, had not been linked to an outbreak, the health unit confirmed.

Three people were at a local hospital Wednesday because of the virus or a related complication.

Ontario’s COVID-19 indicators are heading in the right direction ahead of what appears to be a “quiet summer,” the province’s top doctor recently told the Canadian press.

dr Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore said COVID-19 levels in sewage are declining, as is the test positivity rate and the number of people hospitalized due to the virus.

“If we continue down this path, we will have low levels of endemic activity throughout the summer,” he said.

Preparations are already underway for the fall, when more indoor activities will take place, Moore added.

“Over the summer we are working to catch up on third doses and also making sure those most at risk of serious consequences – meaning those aged 60 and over and/or who are in some way immunocompromised – are up to date with their vaccinations remain ,” he said. “Then in the fall we would have another round of vaccines at a high-risk population level, which is what we expect, possibly with a more specific vaccine for what’s currently in circulation. So it could have a component that would take us against both Omicron as well as against the basic vaccine.”

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Staying up to date with immunizations is key to stopping the spread, whether viral activity is high or low, Moore said, and he encouraged people to get booster doses as immunity builds four to six months after the last dose wears off.

Ontario has been offering fourth doses to everyone over the age of 60 since early April, but only 21.8 percent of people in that age group have received four shots, Moore said. In people 80 and older, uptake is 40 percent, but the fourth dose has been available to long-term care residents for much longer.

In Huron-Perth, nearly 11,500 residents have received a fourth dose as of Tuesday, health unit data show.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 16 new deaths related to COVID-19. Two of those deaths occurred more than a month ago and were added this week after “data cleansing,” government figures show.

The province said 1,248 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, up from 1,345 the previous day. The number of people in intensive care for a COVID-19-related illness rose slightly on Wednesday to 163 from 165 the previous day.

-With Canadian Press files

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