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COVID variants surge in Hamilton as city reports two new deaths

·3 min read

Variant cases are surging in Hamilton as the city reported two new COVID deaths on Tuesday.

Hamilton reported a whopping 199 more presumed cases of fast-spreading variants on Tuesday, bringing the city’s total to 1,981 to date. On top of that, 26 cases have confirmed to be mutations of the virus.

COVID variants tend to be faster spreading and more dangerous than the original strains of the virus.

Meanwhile, public health reported the city had 40 new cases as of April 19 at 3 p.m. — a significant drop from the 214 new cases reported the previous day and breaking from the city’s 11-day streak of at least 125 new cases per day.

Public health did not clarify when asked if the lower case count reported Tuesday could be from an error or delay in data, as has happened before. A statement from spokesperson James Berry only said “case numbers are always subject to change and fluctuations are normal with any data reporting.

“Some reasons for fluctuation include ongoing investigation and data collection, transfers between health units, error detection and linking/unlinking cases to outbreaks,” Berry added. “As always, it’s important to focus on the seven-day average and not on the day-to-day fluctuations.”

Currently, Hamilton’s seven-day average is 175 new cases per day. About 7.1 per cent of tests are currently coming back positive.

The city is also reporting 11 more hospitalized cases overall. There are 138 COVID cases currently in hospital, a drop of 13 from Monday’s pandemic-high of 151.

On Monday, the city’s medical officer of health told the board of health that the virus has reached new heights in Hamilton.

“We are very much at a point in this pandemic that we’ve never been at before,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said at the meeting. “It’s a very sombre and sober time.”

Scarsin Forecasting projects that the city is on track to reach its worst-case scenario. That means Hamilton is expected to have roughly 230 new cases per day by the beginning of May. Two better-case scenarios are now beyond reach.

The recent deaths appear to be two people in their 60s.

A new death was linked to the outbreak at St. Peter’s Hospital’s palliative-care unit, where six people have died in the recent outbreak. A COVID variant has been detected in the outbreak which grew to 27 cases.

There are now 1,383 active cases in the city and 43 active outbreaks.

Almost half of the active cases — 608 — were from close contact. Another 325 were acquired through the community, with 152 linked to outbreaks. Meanwhile, five are connected to travel.

Information for six cases is “missing” and it’s “pending” for the remaining 287 cases.

Seven new outbreaks were declared as of April 19. Three are in schools and child-care centres. St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in Ancaster and Stoney Creek Childcare Centre each have two cases. Sunshine Daycare has four cases.

There were also two new business outbreaks. Air Wise Sales Inc. and Zzone Homes each have three cases, with the cases at Zzone screening positive for a variant.

Juravinski Hospital has a new outbreak in its acute medicine unit with two cases. The seventh outbreak is at Mabuhay Lodge, classified as a supportive housing facility, with one case.

The outbreaks in ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s iron maintenance department, a Michaels store on Stone Church Road East, a St. Leonard’s Society supportive housing facility and St. Joseph hospital’s CTU West unit on Charlton were all declared over on April 19.

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator