The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun in the region and vaccination is the best protection you can have — These were two of the main takeaways from a press call with Dr. T. Hugh Guan, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, where he provided a COVID-19 update today, Friday, Sep. 3, 2021.
Today’s numbers show that KF&LA cases are “slowly but surely” on the rise said Guan, noting “There have been six new cases and we have 18 active cases. In total, we have about five to seven cases per 100,000 in the last seven days. Our cases are rising. Locally, we may also be at the start of the fourth wave, the same as the rest of the province.”
“Across the province today, there were over 800 new cases and the seven-day average [is] also increasing across the province,” he reported. Also of concern, “there are 169 ICU admissions, as of yesterday. And that, unfortunately, is above that 150 beds plus threshold that we discussed last year, whereby surgeries and other procedures need to start to slow down. “
Case modelling shows that, “Unless we get our vaccination rates up, decrease our contacts by a bit, we will have reached a larger peak by mid-October,” Guan explained. This, he said, “was the worst-case scenario.” But by following Public Health advice “we can mitigate that worst-case scenario.”
He also stated, “I hear people are saying that the cases don’t matter, but that is also ICU admissions, those will also rise and will be peaking in mid-October unless we take certain measures.”
Currently, 84.5 per cent of those locally aged 12 and over have had their first dose of the vaccine, with 78.1 per cent having had their second dose, as well. This he pointed out, “has been increasing over the last day or two, since there was the vaccine certification announcement.”
“We have seen a lot more first doses over the last 36 hours after the announcement,” he said, “so folks who may be a little bit on the fence are getting vaccinated, so that is good news — a little bit of silver lining in terms of disturbing the fourth wave.”
Stay safe and get vaccinated
Dr. Guan emphasized that “we continue to know that vaccines are safe and they’re effective. We continue to see that, if you’re vaccinated, you have anywhere from a 25 to 50 times lower chance of being in ICU, compared to if you were unvaccinated and got sick with COVID. So again, we continue to know that vaccines are safe, they’re effective, they work against serious illness, they work against hospitalizations, and they also work against infection — [you are] about five to 10 times less likely to get infected with COVID, if you’re vaccinated.”
With the long weekend approaching, he continued to urge caution.
“If you’re sick, please stay home, please get tested. Wash your hands, wear a mask if you’re in enclosed spaces with a lot of people that you don’t know. Please, wear masks,” he implored.
Addressing protests against health care workers that have occurred in other parts of the country, Guan urged, “Please be kind to your health care workers. It’s been a long year and a half for many, many health care workers. They’ve been… working tirelessly for a year and a half now, either treating [cases], or containing outbreaks and, for the last nine months or so, vaccinating. So, please, please be kind to the healthcare workers at the frontlines.”
“We continue to have vaccine clinics, as well as mobile pop-up sites around the community within L&A County, Frontenac County, as well as the City of Kingston, so we continue to have many, many options available for vaccinations,” he continued. “As well, pharmacies are still providing vaccines, as are primary care offices. So again, vaccines are available, so please do get vaccinated.”
“On that note,” Guan said, he was “happy to take questions.”
Back to school
Questioned about back-to-school safety, Guan reassured concerned families, “we can all agree that schools are important. They’re important for the physical, social, and mental well-being of the kids in our area.”
He assured parents and families that, “we have teams working on Public Health measures with the schools to prevent COVID transmission and, if there is any COVID transmission, rapidly containing and managing it, to ensure that schools are open. We really want to make sure that kids continue to stay in school, especially since the last year and a half has been very disruptive to education and we know that education is super, super important, that we want kids to be in school as much as possible.”
Ivermectin does not treat COVID-19
Increased sales of the drug Ivermectin was another subject raised to which Guan said very clearly, “Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medication that is not shown at all in medical literature to be a useful treatment for COVID-19. We know that there are treatments such as steroids, as well as some other biologic agents for COVID-19 treatment. But Ivermectin is used for parasitic infections; Covid is a virus. So if you are using [Ivermectin to self-treat], you’re using the wrong medication.”
Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms, and head lice and skin conditions like rosacea, but only if prescribed by a doctor. In veterinary medicine, ivermectin is used to prevent and treat heartworm and other parasite infestations. Animal ivermectin products are very different from those approved for humans.
Guan emphasized, “I know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about Ivermectin. What we in the medical field know is that Ivermectin is not at all useful for COVID treatment, and may even be of harm, given that people might be just ordering it themselves, without any understanding of dosages or anything like that. So I would highly advise people to not self-treat with Ivermectin.”
The drug, he said, “is not a treatment or even protective measure against COVID. But, you know what is?” he asked rhetorically, “The vaccine is.”