Normal Christmas festivities will lead to huge spike in infections, many deaths: Hirji

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Niagara on Saturday recorded a record 126 new cases of COVID-19.

That figure was almost double the previous high set on December 12, when Niagara Public Health reported 65 new cases.

The increase in the number of cases is attributed to an outbreak at the Oakwood Park Lodge long-term care home in Niagara Falls.

According to provincial government statistics on COVID-19, there are 88 cases of residents at the 153-bed home, 30 staff cases and six deaths.

“Similar to some of the agricultural outbreaks we’ve seen where we’ve had days with a big spike in cases, it looks like there were already a large number of cases there by the time the outbreak was identified.” , said Dr Mustafa Hirji, the region’s acting medical officer of health.

“Unfortunately, he was not identified as soon as one would have hoped. At this point it’s a matter of putting all the epidemic controls in place and hopefully there won’t be many more cases to come out of once those controls are in place.

Public health recorded 92 new cases on Sunday, bringing the region’s active number to 597.

Niagara Falls has the highest number of active cases in the region with confirmed outbreaks in Oakwood Park, Grand Niagara General Hospital, Millennium Trail Manor and Chippawa Creek at Bella Care Residence.

At least 97 people have died from the virus in Niagara since it emerged earlier this year.

The Ontario government announced Friday evening that Niagara is moving to red alert status in its color-coded COVID-19 response system.

“We need to go back to where we were in March and stay home and only leave for the really critical things like groceries,” Hirji said.

“The way we stop the chain of transmission that is starting to get out of hand is to really break the person-to-person interaction.”

While he understands the holiday season will be different this year, the region’s top doctor has stressed that people need to follow COVID-19 protocols and guidelines in order to stem the tide of growing infections.

“There is going to be a huge spike in infections and many deaths as a result if we go to our normal Christmas festivities,” he said.

On Sunday, 2,316 new cases were reported in Ontario, the sixth consecutive day the province has reported more than 2,000 new cases.

There are more than 18,500 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 875 people hospitalized.

Twenty-five new deaths were reported Sunday, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,150.

As of December 19, Canada had more than 76,000 active cases and more than 14,100 people had died.

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Countries around the world have put in place various restrictions in an attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

The UK, for example, recently introduced new lockdown restrictions. Some countries have imposed curfews and others, including Greece, require residents to text authorities asking for permission to leave their homes.

“I don’t know what the right message is for us, but I think we need to think about those kinds of things because unfortunately what we’re doing right now hasn’t really made an impact,” Hirji said.

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