Middlesex-London Health Unit Stands Firm Despite Rising COVID-19 Cases

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As COVID-19 cases continue to escalate across the province, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) remains unfazed by the possibility of implementing any restrictions. According to the data obtained from public health Ontario, MLHU anticipates a respiratory season more intense than the pre-pandemic years, though less severe than the previous year. Dr. Joanne Kearon, an esteemed medical officer of health at the MLHU, assures that unless the current trends deviate drastically from expectations, no stringent public measures are expected.

Laboratory testing of wastewater at Western University has detected escalating levels of SARS-CoV-2, with a notable increase observed since the tail-end of August, according to professor Eric Arts, a distinguished Western University faculty member and Canada’s research chair in Viral control. This surge, unlike any witnessed in the previous year, has led to speculations of an impending severe wave of the virus.

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This conclusion is substantiated by a recent graph, published by Western researchers, reflecting the alarming increase in viral load at Greenway and Vauxhall treatment plants in London, Ontario.

However, as Dr. Kearon categorically states, this form of surveillance is just one among many indicators of monitoring COVID-19 activity. Other indices of community transmission, including increased test positivity, a rise in outbreaks in long term care homes, and a slight increase in hospitalizations, are also observed.

While the healthcare professionals at MLHU anticipate a harsher respiratory season as compared to the pre-pandemic years, they doubt its severity will match the preceding year. Various health institutions like London Health Sciences Centre, St. Josephs London, and St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital have already reinstated masking requirements, an action wholeheartedly supported by Dr. Kearon for high-risk settings like healthcare institutions.

Although any introduction of restrictions does not seem imminent for now, changes, if they happen, won’t be out of the blue, especially in the face of a new virus variant that does not respond to the immune response engendered by vaccines or the previous infection. Luckily, as of yet, the likelihood of such a scenario remains low.

With the new vaccine booster ready to make its debut, experts urge citizens to get vaccinated. Professor Eric Arts, while expressing apprehension about the likelihood of increased infections in indoor settings, warns against underestimating the potential lifelong health impacts of long COVID. He emphasizes the significance of preventing infection not just for short-term recovery, but also for one’s long-term health.