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While nothing COVID-related that was especially newsworthy emerged over the past week, we appear to have passed an important infection point. After several consecutive months of slow but steady decline in new COVID infections here in Ontario, across Canada and globally, the early indicators have bottomed out and are showing signs of again beginning to rise.
With ever-less-stringent official reporting, the most reliable of those remaining early indicators is municipal wastewater viral counts based on PCR testing of sewage. As you can see from the composite chart from the week just passed, Ontario’s has again started sloping upwards for the first time since early March. We are seeing a similar rise in Kingston, for which the data are a bit more recent. Another early indicator is test positivity rates among the minority of Ontarians who are still eligible for PCR testing. That curve also rose in both Ontario and Kingston in the same timeframe, Kingston’s rise being especially sharp.
For obvious reasons, COVID hospitalization rates tend to lag new infections by a week or so. Ontario’s rate has not yet risen but has flattened out after months of continuous decline down to the lowest level thus far in the entire pandemic.
COVID is seasonal for multiple reasons, the obvious being ease of transmission when most people spend most of their time indoors with often-limited ventilation. Thus, a fall rise in new cases was always in the cards. Most people are more vulnerable now because immunity as a result of some combination of vaccination and prior infection wanes significantly after 6 months. Even in Kingston, which has traditionally enjoyed one of Canada’s highest vaccination rates, only an abysmal 9% of eligible people have bothered to go for a booster in the past six months. Perhaps this is a good time to check when you last had yours and go to one of the many free clinics before you become part of one of those now-rising new-infection statistics.