The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, is believed to spread more easily and faster based on recent modelling and epidemiological studies. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the current Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.
As of Wednesday, Ontario had confirmed 338 cases of the variant in the province as well as six of the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa, and one of the B.1.1.28 variant, first identified in Brazil.
The city’s medical officer of health says the discovery of the variant is something residents should take “seriously” and that the community should not let their “guard down” amid a limited reopening under the province’s COVID-19 response framework.
“As prepared as we are, it’s extremely important that all members of the community are prepared as well,” Richardson said in a statement on Wednesday upon hearing of the emergence of the variant.
Public health is advising residents to stay home as much as possible, not to gather and to consider getting tested should symptoms arise or if notified of a close contact with a confirmed positive case.
On Tuesday, the city’s medical officer reiterated an emergency provision put into place by the province amid the current reopening plan that could return Hamilton to a higher level of restrictions.
“So that is something that is out there as a possibility and speaks to the fact that we are in this situation where there are a number of concerns still about the level of cases and the potential for the new variants,” Richardson said.
Hamilton reported 60 new COVID-19 cases day over day, with a slight increase in active cases from 320 on Monday to 330 on Tuesday.
There were no new deaths and two new outbreaks: at a shelter in downtown Hamilton and the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre on Barton Street.
Public health says there are seven cases at the jail among two residents and five staffers. The other outbreak involves just a single resident at the Good Shepard Men’s Centre on Mary Street.
The city now has 18 outbreaks involving 252 total cases and 25 deaths. Twenty of the deceased are connected to two seniors’ homes currently in an outbreak, The Meadows and Macassa Lodge.
Hamilton’s weekly rate of new cases is now at 41 per 100,000 population, a decrease of eight since Monday.
Hamilton has had 9,877 total COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
The city has administered 25,593 COVID-19 vaccine doses, 17,239 at the HHS fixed clinic and close to 8,354 through the mobile clinic.
About 14,000 doses have been given to health-care workers, with about 5,000 tied to a staffer at an LTCH or retirement home. Just over 4,400 shots have been given to residents in homes and almost 900 to essential caregivers.
Hamilton is in the red-control level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework as of Tuesday.
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