Two-thirds of new COVID-19 cases in Eastern Ontario attributed to UK Variant, says Roumeliotis; vaccinations fully booked through April 9th

Natascha Wood
Nation Valley News

EASTERN ONTARIO — In his twice-weekly media briefing on March 29th, Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis provided updates on the latest COVID-19 developments in the region, reporting that there have been 84 new cases since Friday, March 26th. 34 were in Prescott-Russell, 32 were in SD&G, and 18 were in Cornwall. Dr Paul Roumeliotis confirmed that approximately 66.66% of new cases have been attributed to variants of concern, primarily the UK variant.

There are now 32 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and three in the ICU, which the coctor theorized may be the result of the UK variant’s more severe effects on the body. Similar findings have come out of UK and Denmark, suggesting that the UK strain doubles the likelihood of being admitted to the ICU and increases the likelihood of death by 60 per cent. Roumeliotis also echoed the observations of other medical experts, explaining that the variants are affecting the younger population in higher numbers than before.

There are ten outbreaks ongoing across Eastern Ontario. They are in Chartwell McConnell, Baldwin House, Heartwood LTC, Maxville Manor, Sandfield Place Retirement Home, Greenview Manor, Heritage Lodge, Le Genesis Retirement Home, the East Wing and CCC Unit of the Hawkesbury District General Hospital, and Morrisburg Public School. Tragically, Eastern Ontario also recorded four more deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in the region to 73 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Roumeliotis reported that appointments for vaccinations in the region are fully booked through to April 9th. It is for this reason that the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is not among the Ontario health units starting vaccinations for the 70-plus age group. However, the doctor did add that efforts are underway to open more clinics, though vaccine supplies are still arriving in lesser numbers than expected.

Additionally, all indigenous adults living on reserve are eligible to receive their vaccinations through the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. First Nations individuals 55 and over who do not live on a reserve are now eligible for vaccination through the EOHU.

Roumeliotis also responded to the recent arrest of 35-year-old internal medical specialist Doctor Brian Nadler, whose work at the Hawkesbury Hospital is now under investigation by the OPP in connection to several suspicious deaths.

“It’s a tragic event. We cannot comment further. I know that they are investigating, and our hospital staff are devastated, as, of course, are the families. We express our condolences, but again, I can’t comment any further in that regard,” Roumeliotis said.

Nadler is set to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in L’Orignal on April 6th.

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