COVID-19 Testing Expands, Confirmed Cases Remain Unchanged

BRANTFORD – For the fifth day in a row, the Brant County Health Unit has reported no new cases of COVID-19, leaving the total number of confirmed cases in the area unchanged at 108. That total includes 95 recoveries and four deaths.

As Ontario gradually reopens the economy, the Ford government is implementing the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy. Testing will now be available to a larger population across the province, including those who may be asymptomatic.

Brant County Health Unit’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, says the testing strategy, released Friday afternoon, outlines additional priority populations to be incorporated into the local testing plan as well.

“This strategy will help us here in Brant to further identify settings in our community where mass testing would be beneficial,” Dr. Urbanke explains. “As we’ve stated previously, BCHU has been ensuring throughout our response that at-risk settings and individuals are targeted for mass swabbing. This testing strategy will help us further formalize and guide this ongoing effort.”     

Following the completion of testing all staff and residents at local long term care facilities, the health unit expanded to include mass testing at congregate living facilities in the community. To date, eight living facilities have had testing completed. All 529 tests within those locations have been negative.

As of Thursday, 37 percent, or 40 of 108 cases in Brant, had a test for the virus administered within two days of symptom onset. Dr. Urbanke says this is slightly lower than the provincial rate of 44 percent and emphasizes it is imperative to self-isolate and seek testing immediately when symptoms develop.

“Testing negative does not mean that someone will not be exposed to, test positive for or become sick with COVID-19 at any time after the test is completed. The test result only means an individual did not have detectable COVID-19 at the time of testing.” 

Dr. Elizabeth Urbanke, Acting Medical Officer of Health

Elsewhere in the region, the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit has reported a total of 217 cases of COVID-19, including 136 recoveries and 31 deaths.

Provincially, Ontario has confirmed 344 new cases of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the province saw the number of new cases fall under 300 on back-to-back days for the first time in months. The rolling five-day average has now been on the decline for five consecutive days, after reaching a recent high of 426 on Monday. Those numbers also mean the positive rate is back below two percent after sitting as high as seven percent in past weeks.

While the number of new cases appears to have flat-lined to a degree, 41 further deaths were confirmed on Friday, representing the highest single-day mortality number since May 20th. The total death toll confirmed by the province now stands at 2,230, which would equate to about eight percent of Ontario’s 27,210 confirmed cases.