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Current COVID-19 data in Timiskaming1

Since late December 2021, eligibility for COVID-19 tests in Ontario was limited to certain groups of higher risk people. For more details on who is eligible for testing, click here. Results from self-testing with Rapid Antigen Tests are not tracked. For these reasons, test results since late December 2021 only represent the number of higher risk cases and no longer represent the true number of cases in the community. 

This data is updated on Mondays and Thursdays. The last update was February 2, 2023.

 Current situation

Current active cases2,3 (mostly high risk*)

27

 Current hospitalized patients with COVID-19¥

1

Current patients admitted due to COVID-194

0

Current ICU patients admitted due to COVID-194,5 (ICU is level 2)

0

Total deaths

34

 Total positive cases

Mar 2020 to Dec 2021

726

Since Jan 1, 20222 (mostly high risk*)

2288

Active high risk outbreaks6

Location

Date declared

   

*Since January 1, testing was limited to the highest risk populations, therefore, the number of cases underestimates the actual number of people with COVID-19 in Timiskaming

¥ COVID-19 patients who are in the hospital while waiting to be transferred to long-term care are not included, with the exception of during a COVID-19 hospital outbreak. 

1‘Timiskaming’ is used to represent the Timiskaming Health Unit catchment area, which consists of the District of Timiskaming and Temagami.
2 The number of cases underestimates the actual number of people with COVID-19 in Timiskaming due to changes in testing eligibility. 
3 These counts include confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases by the earliest date recorded (reported date, symptom onset, testing date).
4 Includes only cases who tested positive AND who were admitted to hospital due to COVID-19.
5 An intensive care unit (ICU) is a hospital department that provides intensive care to critically ill patients. Timiskaming’s ICUs are classified as level 2. Patients with greater needs are transferred to a hospital outside of Timiskaming that has level 3 ICUs. Patients transferred out of Timiskaming for care are not included in this total.
6 A high risk setting includes congregate living settings (like group homes), hospitals, long-term care homes, and retirement homes. An outbreak is defined as two or more COVID-19 cases within a 10 day period, where at least one case was likely acquired within the high risk setting.

All the data below are updated each Wednesday. The last update was February 1, 2023. 

 Cases of COVID-19 in Timiskaming over time

The data below includes only cases who tested positive and who were admitted to hospital due to COVID-19. This data provides information about the impact of COVID-19 on the health care system in Timiskaming. COVID-19 patients who are in the hospital while waiting to be transferred to long-term care are not included, except for during a COVID-19 hospital outbreak.

COVID-19 hospitalizations over time 

 On May 4, the two columns in the table below were changed from ‘2020-2021’ and ‘2022 to present’ to dates outlined by the COVID-19 waves.

COVID-19 Deaths in Timiskaming 

Wastewater testing and results 

Timiskaming is monitoring local COVID-19 levels with a wastewater surveillance program, which involves testing sewage for the presence of COVID-19 in Kirkland Lake and Haileybury.

How it works

People who have COVID-19 will have COVID-19 gene fragments in their stool, even if they don’t have symptoms yet or if they remain asymptomatic. That’s why testing wastewater can provide information about local COVID-19 levels. Wastewater data, along with other local COVID-19 indicators like case numbers and testing rates, can determine what steps are taken by public health to protect the public. This type of testing is anonymous since it monitors the levels of the entire community at once.

How is sampling and testing done?

Several days a week, a sample is collected by the Ontario Clean Water Agency from the municipality’s wastewater treatment facility and is sent to a laboratory, where it is tested for COVID-19 and COVID-19 variants. Results are shared with the Timiskaming Health Unit and can provide an early warning of an increase or decrease in local COVID-19 cases.

How to interpret the wastewater results

There are several factors that may affect the amount of virus detected in a wastewater sample. For instance, some samples froze while in transit to the lab during the winter months, and it is suspected that this decreased the amount of COVID-19 detected. Spring thaw or high levels of rain may also increase water in the sewage system and dilute the amount of COVID-19 detected. For these reasons, it is important to consider wastewater data with other COVID-19 data such as case counts and hospitalizations.

Since the fall of 2022, the laboratory that analysed Timiskaming’s wastewater samples changed from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Alberta to the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury. This change will decrease the shipping time between the wastewater plants and the laboratory for analysis.

Keep in mind that the case counts below are based on individuals getting tested for COVID-19 and that access to testing changes over time. For instance, as of Jan 1, 2022, the case count underestimates the number of people with COVID-19 in the communities.

COVID-19 wastewater and confimred case results 

This project is run through a partnership between the municipalities of Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, the Government of Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Sciences North Research Institute, and the Timiskaming Health Unit. The program is funded through the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. For more information visit the Ontario government’s COVID-19 wastewater monitoring webpage.

Variants of concern

All viruses change over time, and some of these changes can affect how easily they spread, the severity of the illness they cause, how they react to vaccines or medicines, and even how they are detected.

The Omicron variant has several sub-lineages. The most recent complete week of fully sequenced data available for Ontario regarding these sub-lineages is from January 8 to 14, 2023. That week the most prevalent Omicron cases were sub-lineages BQ.1.1 (33%), followed by XBB.1.5 (9%), BQ.1 (7%) and other BQ lineages (28%).9 

Full genome sequencing is only conducted on a portion of positive cases in Ontario. Between December 18 and January 14, one sample from Timiskaming was fully analyzed and identified as BQ.1.1.9

9 Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Epidemiologic summary: SARS. CoV-2 whole genome sequencing in Ontario, January 27, 2023. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2023.

 

Most recent video update from the Timiskaming Health Unit

 

For previous videos click here.

News about COVID-19

Click here for recent news about COVID-19 in Timiskaming.

 

 

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