A pair of Ontario health policy experts are suggesting it’s too early to judge the impact of rising COVID-19 cases among children in the province, particularly tied to those who are back at school.
With the province reporting close to 1,600 COVID cases in schools during the last 14 days and over 2,000 since the September return, Laurier University advisor Dr. Ahmad Firas Khalid told Global News it’s a “bit too early” to say whether the reopening will cause “massive” cases in the community.
“I think that kind of data will come in in the next couple of weeks, probably around the Thanksgiving break,” said Firas Khalid.
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“We will see that data coming in and then scientists will have a much better informed response on schools reopening and whether schools continue to be a big concern.”
As of Wednesday, Hamilton’s public schools reported a combined 119 new cases in the last 14 days with 168 in total since the the fall 2021 return. Cases among students since the return account for 154 of that total.
There have been five more outbreaks among the city’s educational facilities since Friday in Hamilton tied to 23 cases, bringing the total number of active surges to 13 as of Sept. 28, according to public health.
Despite cases across Ontario’s schools rising day after day Dr. Prabhat Jha, epidemiologist and professor of Global Health with the University of Toronto, doesn’t expect a large gush of outbreaks beyond classrooms since vaccines are more prevalent in municipalities compared to the fall 2020 return.
“So their contribution to new infections should have already been showing up in the (overall) data,” Jha said.
“So if you put all that together, I’m reasonably hopeful that we won’t get another big surge on top of our current kind of not great, but not bad levels of infection that we have.”
Jha suggests the real issue in communities across the province at the moment is with the large numbers of people over 50 not vaccinated or “under vaccinated” — not having had two shots.
“There’s about 700,000 above age 50 that still don’t have their vaccines. Almost all of the hospitalizations and much of the new cases are coming from that group,” Jha said.
“That should very much be our single focus to make sure of, is those 700,000 above 50. They’re the ones at risk of dropping dead or going to the hospital.”
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More than 10.5 million Ontarians have been fully immunized with two doses representing 80.7 per cent of the eligible (12 and older) population. First dose coverage stands at 86.1 per cent.
In Hamilton, there were another 1,285 shots put into arms on Tuesday which is a slight decline week over week, when there were just under 1,400 dose administered on Sept. 21.
About 77 per cent of Hamiltonians have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday. Just over 83 per cent of residents have had at least one dose.
Hamilton reports 325 active COVID cases, 34 in hospital
Hamilton reported another 39 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, which keeps the city’s seven-day average of new cases at 45.
Active cases saw another slight drop day over day to 325 cases as of Sept. 29.
The bulk of the city’s active cases are with those under 50 — 231 cases. Youth under 19 represent just over 37 per cent of new cases as of Wednesday.
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Both hospital systems have a combined 34 patients requiring care, also dropping slightly day over day. There are 11 patients in intensive care (ICU).
The weekly positivity rate, representing the number of COVID tests returning from labs positive, dropped slightly as of Wednesday from last week’s 3.2 to 3.1 per cent.
The provincial average is 1.7 per cent.
Public health reported one more pandemic death day over day connected with a person in their 60s who died with the affliction. The city has had 413 deaths since March of 2020.
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