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Summer spike in COVID-19 cases across Simcoe Muskoka

Summer festivals, events and travel plans are getting into full swing, and so is a new wave of COVID-19, with weekly cases increasing by 46 per cent across Simcoe Muskoka.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) says the more transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant is driving the increase in infections, largely tracked by wastewater data.

Recent samples from Midland and Orillia reveal higher levels than in May and early June.

"We've been in this for two and a half years. Unfortunately, the pandemic is continuing. The good news is that we aren't starting from square one," noted SMDHU associate medical officer of health Dr. Colin Lee.

More than half the total population in Simcoe Muskoka have yet to receive a third dose of the vaccine, prompting doctors to urge residents to roll up their sleeves.

"It does give you an increased protection against being infected, and if you are unlucky enough to be infected, it significantly decreases your chance of being hospitalized," said Lee.

Experts warn the spike in cases could result in a jump in hospitalizations, which worries health officials already dealing with staffing shortages.

"We have a lot of mitigation strategies to move staff around to try to keep as well-staffed as we can. We have some areas that are particularly challenging: the emergency department is one particular area that is challenging to meet demand, but we are making sure to keep it safe," said Dr. Jeff Tyberg, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre's Chief of Staff.

To help ease the burden on hospitals and prepare for fall, doctors say 80 to 90 per cent of eligible residents need to get their third shot.

Meantime, experts recommend masking when in indoor public settings and staying home when sick. Top Stories

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