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Niagara Health reports the death of two more Niagara residents

Posted: May 15, 2022

(May 13, 2022)

By: Victoria Nicolaou, Niagara Falls Review

COVID-19 infections may be slightly down as compared to the last few weeks, but hospitalizations remain high, and Niagara’s acting medical officer of health warns there continues to be “a lot of risk” in the community.

“While we might be looking more positive, it’s going to take time for the infections to come down and for this wave to come to an end,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, in an interview Friday.

“We all need to make sure we stay vigilant and stay careful out there so we don’t spread it to others.”

As we continue through the spring months, with indoor events and spring dance recitals, Hirji highly recommends staying outdoors when possible to minimize the risk of spreading infection, and continues to stress the importance of wearing masks.

While he had hoped to see Ontario institute a province-wide mask mandate, even writing a joint letter to the province’s chief doctor last week, Hirji said he was not surprised by the response from Dr. Kiernan Moore, who has chosen not to move forward with any additional mask mandates.

“His response I think was fairly standard response you get from a government official, fairly bland. It doesn’t lay out a whole lot of reasoning for their position,” he said. “It doesn’t really say at any point explicitly that he doesn’t support extending the mask requirement but it’s basically implied.”

Hirji said there would be some benefit in Niagara if he were to institute a region-wide mask mandate, but the numbers continue to show it would have the highest impact if done province-wide.

However, the point of the letter was to build the case of support, and the hope that as more people and groups, such as the Ontario Health Coalition, voice their support, it could — even down the road in the next wave of the virus, which could be worse as vaccine immunity begins to wane — be “enough to shift opinion.”

And to try and ensure the province continues to actively manage the pandemic.

“We’re at a stage where we don’t need to do lockdowns, we’re not going to be having really onerous restrictions on businesses at any point, but that the pandemic is still here,” said Hirji.

“It’s still something we need to take seriously and that the province is not going to be disengaged and unfortunately just going to let a lot of people, especially more vulnerable people, perhaps suffer from illness from this virus.”

After two days without any COVID-19 deaths, Niagara Health reported Friday the death of two more Niagara residents who both tested positive for the virus. Currently there are 82 people being treated in the hospital system, with 19 admitted primarily for COVID-19, and three people being treated in the ICU.

Four hospitals are declaring outbreaks in its facilities, including one new active outbreak in Niagara Falls (four in total), one in St. Catharines, two at Welland and one in Port Colborne.

Niagara Region Public Health reported 1,288 active cases of the virus and 17 active outbreaks, with nine of those in long-term care and retirement homes.

“While things are improving, they’re not completely better and some people are still suffering the worst of consequences of COVID-19, which is passing away,” said Hirji.

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