Haldimand-Norfolk’s COVID case count continues to rise, fuelled partly by extended-family events over the Christmas season, says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Norfolk and Haldimand’s medical officer of health.

He is bracing for a spike in numbers as participants fall ill in the days and weeks ahead, and warns the hardest hit will wind up in an intensive-care ward with respiratory symptoms, attached to supplemental oxygen or a ventilator.

“Being on a ventilator is not a pleasant place to be. It’s a less than ideal way to conclude your life,” he said.

To date, 35 people in the Norfolk and Haldimand health district have succumbed to the virus.

The 118 cases being managed by the health unit Saturday had risen to 135 by Monday morning, and the two-week rolling average was up from 150 to 160 cases, indicating health authorities are losing ground in their bid to contain the virus.

Nesathurai took aim at the number of senior level Canadian politicians in Canada who have thumbed their noses at the rules and engaged in non-essential travel outside the country, saying those approving and executing public-health orders have a special obligation to lead by example,

More than a dozen have been identified as having vacationed abroad during the holiday season.

Nesathurai has received few details on vaccine rollout, which is being co-ordinated at the provincial level, but expects either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine will be administered locally starting this month and ramping up over the next six months. Residents of long-term care facilities, front-line care workers, and indigenous communities have been identified as a priority.

As of Monday, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit was managing 10 outbreaks.
Four are in long-term care homes.

Another three outbreaks involve migrant workers in bunkhouses in the agricultural zone. One of these farms experienced a cluster outbreak of at least 25 cases. Another three outbreaks have been traced to events in “a congregate setting.”

The Norfolk and Haldimand board of health recently approved the hiring of 17.5 full-time equivalents to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t become endemic in the community. 10 of these positions have been filled, including that of program manager, five public health inspectors, and three nurses.