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Niagaras top doctor on what's next as regional cases close in on 100

21 new cases reported on Thursday - but it's not fully as bad as it seems
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Dr. Mustafa Hirji says a flattening of the curve from social isolation could be seen in a few weeks. Photo: Thorold News archive

Niagara public health report 21 additional cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday, bringing the regional total to 82 confirmed, with 11 listed as 'recovered.'

Regional acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji tells Thorold News that nine of the cases are linked to someone who has been previously confirmed as positive, while six had a history of travel and six without a clear source of infection, labeled as community spread.

Dr. Hirji said the cases all became symptomatic and presented within a 19-day period.

“It is somewhat reassuring that there was not 21 people who came in one day.”

He credits the hard work of the regional team of the 30 regional health employees, mostly nurses from various health proframs who work full-time with tracking down potential contacts of those presenting with COVID-19 to ensure they self-isolate and are tested.

The team is soon to double in size, and are working extended hours to help limit the spread of the pandemic.

Yesterday, the region declared outbreaks in three additional long-term care- and retirement homes in Niagara, adding to the many big challenges currently facing the local health authorities.

With the increase in new Niagara cases, Hirji would not say how many were found in retirement homes, due to patient privacy.

He would only confirm that there was at least one case at every location listed, with the exception of Seasons Retirement Communty who reported two.

Hirji said he is hopeful that the visible effects on flattening the curve could become visible now, with the first travel-related restrictons implemented weeks ago to lead to a decline in travel-related cases.

A signal of that, he says, is that the majority of the latest cases are linked to an already confirmed infected person, indicating that contact tracing is working.

“In three weeks or so we could start seeing the effects of the business closures and social isolation with the number of new cases flattening out."

Out of 34 provincial deaths reported by the Ministry of Health, four are in Niagara.




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