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Delta likely already dominant strain in region as close contact drives transmission

According to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang
061720 - covid coronavirus - AdobeStock_330293007
(stock photo)

Waterloo Region's Medical Officer of Health provided an update on our COVID-19 situation on Friday. 

According to the province, Waterloo Region was once again the number one hot spot in Ontario for new cases. That marks the third straight day we topped the list, although we were tied with Toronto on Thursday. 

Waterloo Region has been named an area of concern for the Delta variant. 

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said based on the latest data, it's believed Delta is already the dominant strain in Waterloo. 

"Cases are occurring throughout the region due to the usual risk factors, but spreading even faster due to Delta and among those who are mostly unimmunized," said Dr. Wang.

Dr. Wang said our weekly COVID-19 incidence rate has continued to increase due to the usual risk factors, fueled by the Delta variant. 

In addition to increased hospitalizations, we're also starting to experience more outbreaks. Dr. Wang said, "This always occurs after a rise in the number of cases."

Dr. Wang added that based on proxy indicators and in consultation with provincial experts, it's estimated that Delta is growing rapidly in our region. She noted that between June 6 and June 12, 65 per cent of our cases were most likely Delta. 

She said while we do have a significant shelter system outbreak in Kitchener-Waterloo, most of our cases do not come from that outbreak.

The outbreak is listed on the region's online COVID-19 dashboard as Congregate Setting 42 (multiple locations). As of Thursday's update, there were 94 cases linked to it.

Dr. Wang said, "Cases are occurring through the region due to usual risk factors, but spreading even faster due to Delta - and among those who are mostly unimmunized. There is wide circulation of Delta in Waterloo Region."

Close contact remains the most common driver of transmission. Dr. Wang said this includes close contact in households and social gatherings where people from multiple households are having close contact interactions.

Dr. Wang said if we didn't have the immunization rates we already do in Waterloo Region, the situation would have been much worse. "We have seen instances of the virus not being able to spread further after it encounters people who have been vaccinated."

She added that we need to keep building a wall of protection, and it needs to be higher and stronger than before due to the Delta variant. 

"We need to keep pushing our immunization rates as high as they will go," said Dr. Wang. She then noted that Waterloo Region will be receiving much more supply of Moderna in the coming weeks. 

Dr. Wang advised residents to not turn down Moderna to wait for Pfizer - she said get the first mRNA vaccine offered to you. 

In closing, Dr. Wang said now is not the time to let our guard down or loosen adherence to public health measures. 

"Waterloo Region has come together before to push back COVID-19, we can do it again," said Dr. Wang. 

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