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Grey Bruce Health Unit continues to grapple with the delta variant

The delta variant has been the driving force behind the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Grey and Bruce counties. And according to the region’s top doctor, the surges could continue locally for up to 10 weeks.

“Delta is very efficient in the way it transmits. Previously, for each case we saw two to three transmission cases. For the delta it is six to nine. So, it is definitely a different challenge,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU).

According to Arra, the GBHU documented its first delta variant COVID-19 case at the end of May.

“Over the past three to four weeks, we’ve seen different waves. We put out the fire and we see it starting again. So, on average, our daily new cases have been around 20 cases,” Arra said during a presentation to Grey County council on Thursday morning.

He explained that in conversation with the provincial ministry and other regions in Ontario that have been experiencing similar epidemiology trends, Grey-Bruce could continue to see the surges of the delta variant continue for up to 10 weeks.

“The experience from other areas in the province – Waterloo being one of those – is that this situation will stay with us for a period of time, around 10 weeks. So, we cannot bring it [case counts] down to zero, but we can keep a lid on it and have enough control that it is not going up to 200 new cases per day,” Arra said.

In mid-July, Public Health Ontario confirmed that 99 per cent of the cases in Grey-Bruce are considered to be the delta variant.

At the same time, Grey-Bruce registered the highest number of new daily cases out of all 34 health units in the province, based on the daily update from Public Health Ontario.

Over the past few days, Arra reported that the region has been “shifting in the right direction” with an average of about 12 new cases a day.

He said that while the region continues to see surges of COVID-19 cases, the health unit is and has been maintaining full control of the pandemic through contact tracing and case management.

“When I mentioned that we have full control over the situation, it does not mean we are going to bring it [case counts] to zero. But we hope so and I’m optimistic we can. However, the control comes from the fact that we follow up with all these cases within 24 hours, and that the 20 [cases] per day did not become 40 per day after three or four days,” Arra said.

The health unit’s most recent situation report issued on July 21, reported 15 new cases with 147 active cases with 390 active high-risk contacts.

The region has had a cumulative total of 2,026 cases with 1,860 resolved cases and 16 deaths. There are currently nine Grey-Bruce residents in the hospital with COVID-19.

Active COVID-19 cases in Grey County are currently located in: Owen Sound (35), Southgate (1), Blue Mountains (2), Grey Highlands (8), Hanover (13), West Grey (20), Meaford (6), Georgian Bluffs (4) and Chatsworth (9).
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