As COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to surge in Waterloo Region, our local public health unit is trying to get ahead of the new Delta variant.
"It is concerning that we've started to see an increase in cases, hospitalizations, and outbreaks," said Waterloo Region Public Health Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hsui-Li Wang. "But we know what we need to do and we need to continue to do it."
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is the one first identified in India which has proven even more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in the United Kingdom which fuelled Ontario's most recent wave of sickness and led to another lockdown and stay-at-home order.
"When you mix that with people gathering and not really practising public health precautions you can have spread and spread that moves very quickly because it's Delta and the most transmissible we've had to date," said Dr. Wang.
She says we're already seeing the Delta variant rising in prevalence locally, especially among those who aren't yet vaccinated and hanging around in groups of other un-vaccinated people.
"What we're seeing a lot of with our recent cases is that it is spread by close contact," Dr. Wang said. "That's why it's really important for people not to let their guard down and really keep a distance and continue to wear face masks and, again, if you gather with others outside your household, take it outdoors up to the legally permissible limit."
As for the race between variant and vaccine, Dr. Wang says second dose demand remains high but we also need to keep pushing more people to get their first.
"What we have right now is very good demand still so that's encouraging but we also do know, based on the experiences in other jurisdictions, that we are going to hit a plateau," she said. "Which is why we are starting this campaign this week trying to encourage people who haven't gotten their first dose yet to get their first dose."
"We need to continue with those efforts because, even though there are targets that the provincial governments have set, we know the more people are immunized and the more people are fully-immunized, the better we'll be able to protect against not only Delta, but any other new variant that comes our way."