Niagara Region COVID-19 cases approaching 500

May 1, 2020

The human damage from the COVID-19 pandemic is also hitting our neighbors across the Niagara River, in the Regional Municipality of Niagara. The infection is still rising, approaching 500 cases.

As on this side of the river, the number of cases in Niagara Region started slowly and just rose and rose. The Province of Ontario also battled the virus with lockdowns and commercial closings. Clearly, the mass of the cases revolve around the millions who live in the Toronto area, with more than 16,000 cases across Ontario and the death toll blowing past 1,000.

Dr. Mustafa Hirji is Niagara Region's acting medical officer of health. Hirji said the focus of the virus has been among the old and the ailing.

Credit Niagara Region

"Living together at certain places and lots of thoughts are going around about how to address that, but I don't want to go to much into detail right now," Hirji said. "For me, it's, I think, a systemic issue that we're going to need to be addressed as an entire country and we in Niagara Region have not been spared from that, where we've seen really about half of our infections linked to either residents or staff of these nursing homes and retirement homes."

Ontario is also preparing to re-open. Hirji said Canada has been able to get enough tests that it can watch the country re-open while being able to test to see if a surge of the virus develops in that easing of the lockdown.

Hirji said when he was studying public health after med school, there was some awareness of epidemics like SARS and MERS.

"We were on alert that they potentially could come here. I think we were fortunate that none of  those warnings, really signs, built up to something of this scale," he said. "I think until you actually see of this scale, it's never quite as real and I think we're learning a lot of some of the things we could have done to better plan as a result of actually now seeing how it actually plays out in real life."