Delta variant is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the Peterborough region

Medical officer of health says those not immunized at greatly increased risk of infection from more transmissible variant

Experts believe that the delta variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India, is far more contagious than the virus that tore through the world in 2020. (Photograph: Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times / Getty)
Experts believe that the delta variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India, is far more contagious than the virus that tore through the world in 2020. (Photograph: Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times / Getty)

As the COVID-19 infection picture continues to brighten in the Peterborough region, the local presence of the more transmissible delta variant of concern (B.1.617.2, first identified in India) is casting a persistent shadow.

During a Peterborough Public Health media briefing held Wednesday (June 30), medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra reported that more than half of current local active cases are infected with the delta variant.

“From the data we’ve looked at, we believe the delta variant is now the dominant strain circulating here in Peterborough,” said Dr. Salvaterra. “For people who are unimmunized, and even people who have only one dose, the risk of infection from the delta (variant) if they are exposed is much greater.”

Advertisement - content continues below



According to the latest vaccination numbers, 24.1 per cent of vaccine-eligible adults 18 and older in the Peterborough region have not yet been vaccinated. The percentage of unvaccinated youths aged 12 to 17 is 40 per cent.

“It is important to complete the series of immunizations now that the door has opened wide and people can book their second dose as soon as 28 days (after their first dose),” said Dr. Salvaterra, adding “We have lots of availability right now — lots of appointments that are open to book that second shot.”

“Yesterday we added another 12,000 open appointments online that can be booked for our local clinics,” she said. “Also, starting tomorrow, anyone 18 years old or older seeking a first dose can walk in at the Evinrude Centre between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. seven days a week.”

The flip side of the alarmingly high number of local residents who have not received any vaccine is much more encouraging, with 98,238 residents — 75.9 per cent of those aged 18 and over — having received at least one dose of vaccine. Meanwhile, the number of those fully vaccinated is at 44,060.

The current number of active cases in Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake and Hiawatha is reported as 15 — a decrease of two since June 24. After reporting no new cases at all last weekend, eight new cases have been recorded since Monday. Meanwhile, the number of close contacts of positive cases being monitored has also shown a major improvement at 39, down from 79 reported late last week.

While there are no outbreaks locally, Dr. Salvaterra did report another COVID-related death, bringing to 22 the number of deaths reported since the pandemic was declared. The person who died was a woman in her 70s who lived in the community and had received one dose of vaccine.

Advertisement - content continues below



With Ontario now in step two of the provincial reopening plan, Dr. Salvaterra warned we must proceed “with caution and care as Ontario continues to experience outbreaks fueled by the delta variant”, adding, “We must be careful at this potentially fragile phase in our recovery.”

Among the activities now permitted, Dr. Salvaterra focused her remarks on sports league play and yard sales.

“Team sports must be modified to avoid personal contact,” she stressed. “Close contact sports, even outdoors, can come with risks due to the inability to keep that distance at all times. I recommend you choose one team sport to play this season. That will help keep your contacts low. Also, don’t share your food or water bottles or equipment with others. Do not share rides to practices or games.”

Yard sales, said Dr. Salvaterra, must be restricted to a gathering of 25 or less people at any one time, with physical distancing of two metres still a requirement.

Meanwhile, with the province having announced it will further ease restrictions in long-term care settings, Dr. Salvaterra broke down what that means.

“As of July 7, residents can have outdoor visits of up to 10 people,” she explained. “All residents may have up to two general visitors and two caregivers for an indoor visit. The limit on the number of people who can be designated as caregivers has been removed, personal care services will be able to resume, and the cohorting of residents will be relaxed during outdoor activities.”

Also commenting during Thursday’s briefing were Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef, Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones, and Peterborough board of health chair and Selwyn mayor Andy Mitchell.