A look at the local numbers …
Public Health Sudbury & Districts says there were 19 new cases of COVID-19 verified yesterday.
The agency verifies the new cases are all in the Greater Sudbury area and most attributed to close contact.
The agency also reported that three COVID-19 deaths occurred over the weekend bringing the number of deceased in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts to 19 since the pandemic began in 2020.
Considering resolved cases, the health unit has 340 active cases.
Health Sciences North has 36 admitted patients, 15 verified as positive cases with 21 waiting for test results.
Of the 36, nine individuals are in intensive care.
And Algoma Public Health is reporting ten active cases of COVID-19, all in self-isolation.
There are no hospitalizations within its jurisdiction.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reporting three COVID-19 related deaths, all in Greater Sudbury.
The agency sent condolences to the families, friends, and caregivers affected by these losses and out of respect, no further details will be provided.
A total of 19 deaths have now been reported within the health unit’s service area since the beginning of the pandemic.
Vale confirms COVID-19 outbreak at Levack’s Coleman Mine
An outbreak was declared at Coleman Mine in Levack this past weekend.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts did not issue a notice that the outbreak had been declared, but Vale spokesperson Danica Pagnutti said the declaration was made on Saturday.
Public Health confirmed that one instance of workplace transmission had occurred and declared an outbreak at Coleman mine, says Pagnutti, so they have taken every effort to contain the outbreak and have completed all contact tracing.
USW Local 6500 Vice-President Kevin Boyd says 16 cases have been confirmed.
Pagnutti did not confirm the number but says all cases are self-isolating.
She said Vale already has measures in place to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19, including screening, physical distancing, COVID-19 testing through NEOMO, contact tracing and isolation.
PHSD has not provided any information regarding the outbreak to media or on its website.
Vaccine minimum age lowered in 11 more regions, but not Algoma or Sudbury health unit areas
Ontario is lowering the minimum age for COVID-19 vaccines in 11 more public health units, but the Algoma and Sudbury public health regions are not one of them.
As of yesterday morning, people born in 1951 and earlier can use the provincial system to book their shots in the regions, which include Hamilton, Grey Bruce, Peel and Ottawa.
Previously, the minimum age in most regions was 75.
While Ontario is lowering the minimum age in some areas, both regional health agencies just moved to begin offering vaccines to those 75 years of age and up this week.
At the tipping point
Members of Ontario’s science advisory table are warning that our province is at a tipping point in the battle against COVID-19.
A report from the group of medical experts, released yesterday evening, notes the number of new infections each day is now as high as it was during the second wave, while hospitalizations are 20 per cent higher than they were when we went into a complete lockdown just before Christmas.
It adds that the more-contagious variants of concern are spreading rapidly, and now account for two-thirds of the cases reported in Ontario.
The group’s study shows rapidly-increasing numbers of younger people contracting the virus, and being admitted to hospitals for treatment.
It notes that 382 people are now being treated in hospital just short of the record of 400 who were hospitalized at the peak of the second wave in January.
Health officials fear another spike in COVID-19 cases will come in the next few weeks.
With Passover already under way, Easter set for this weekend, and Ramadan to begin in a couple of weeks, they say more people will be moving around the province.
That, they fear, could set off another sharp rise in the number of new diagnoses.
Toronto’s medical officer of health is warning that even a coronavirus inoculation may not help you.
Doctor Eileen de Villa notes it takes two weeks for the vaccine protection to take hold.
Our province is pausing plans to use the AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people, following advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
The federal group is recommending the vaccine not be administered to those under 55, following more reports from Europe of blood clots occurring.
However, the issue does not seem to affect those 55 and older.
Health Canada says there have not been any cases of clots reported here.
To this point, Ontario has only been administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 60 and older.
With rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, Ontario’s spring school break is hanging in the balance.
The event, usually set for March, won’t begin until April 12th and Education Minister Stephen Lecce (LEH-chay) says it will proceed.
But he admits the government will await advice from the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Premier Doug Ford agrees that parents will need some time to plan and he’s promising to have a final decision by this Friday.
The school break was delayed to prevent Ontarians from travelling and spreading the coronavirus even further.