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Hopes for COVID-safe summer climb as pandemic indicators fall

Waterloo Region's top doctor says it appears the current wave has peaked and may be starting to wane though the decline will take time
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang thumbnail

The region's top doctor is fuelling hopes of a COVID-safe summer though she's also cautioning against a summer of complacency.

Waterloo Region Public Health has suggested key local pandemic indicators have been plateauing for some time but the health unit now says it appears they've peaked.

"We're starting to see some trends going down but they're still pretty high at this time and the rate of descent is slow," said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Medical Officer of Health for Waterloo Region. 

So, essentially, virus levels in the community remain high but we do appear to be on the other side now of the curve though the descent will be slow.

That means people will continue to get sick, some will wind up in hospital, and the hospitals themselves will likely remain under strain.

"The strain or the demand on healthcare is still very high at this time and, in addition, there are a lot of healthcare workers off because they either have COVID or they've been a close contact and they have to self-isolate," said Dr. Wang.

"We're seeing indicators that the rate of infection may be going down but the impacts on the healthcare system will continue to be there for a little while longer."

As for the promise of a more normal summer, Dr. Wang says that promise is likely to become reality so long as we ensure it doesn't also become a summer of complacency.

"Try to do more activities outdoors, outdoors is much lower risk than indoors," she said. "And when you're indoors, especially in a crowded environment, keep your mask on."

Dr. Wang is also continuing to urge people to stay home if they're sick whether they think it's COVID or not.

"Stay away from others when you're not feeling well because that's something that also helps reduce the spread amongst our friends and loved ones."

So a more normal but hopefully not complacent summer looks to be in the cards though Dr. Wang is also warning in advance there's no stopping summer from turning back into fall and winter.

"And we should expect intermittent waves or periods of higher and lower risk because the pandemic continues," she said.

"In the last two years we have seen that the risk of waves and risk of illness increases during the winter respiratory season so I do think it's very likely we'll have to revert to adding more layers of protection during those higher-risk periods of the year or if a new wave should arrive that is more severe, that is more transmissible."