Niagara Health reported Monday the deaths of five more patients with COVID-19.
Four of those deaths occurred between Jan. 7 and 9, while the fifth was Dec. 27 but not previously reported.
Since the start of January, 12 patients with COVID-19 have died in hospital in Niagara. The hospital system, though, said the virus wasn’t necessarily the cause of death in each case.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the education minister, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens said Niagara shouldn’t be left off the list when Ontario opens 10 clinics to provide COVID-19 booster shots for education and childcare workers.
With schools closed and students studying from home at least until Jan. 17 due to fast-spreading Omicron infections, the provincial government said Saturday it will open 10 of the clinics around Toronto, as well as in Hamilton and Oakville.
But that won’t help Niagara, Stevens wrote to Minister Stephen Lecce.
“Our education workers are still teaching throughout the day and we cannot expect them to drive almost 100 kilometres to get their booster shot,” she said.
Stevens said about 6,000 education workers in Niagara “provide an essential service and deserve to have a local and accessible clinic for boosters.”
She called on Premier Doug Ford to provide extra staffing support so clinics can be held in Niagara.
The latest information from Niagara’s two English-speaking school boards, released before Christmas, showed 92 per cent of staff at District School Board of Niagara are fully vaccinated and 88 per cent at Niagara Catholic District School Board.
Last spring, Niagara Region Public Health held clinics just for teachers to get their first COVID-19 vaccinations. Now, though, much of its staffing is dedicated to mass vaccination clinics providing first and second doses and booster shots.
One for people aged 12 and older continues through Feb. 5 at Niagara Falls Convention Centre; another for children aged five to 11 will run Jan. 20 to Feb. 5, also at the convention centre.
Appointments there, or through pharmacies, can be booked at Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by phone at 1-833-943-3900. Same-day appointments become available most days, and people are urged to check online each day mid-morning.
On Monday, there were 123 patients with COVID-19 admitted to Niagara Health hospitals, including 78 being treated primarily for the virus.
Of those admitted, 88 are 65 or older while one patient is younger than 16.
There were 20 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, including 10 who are unvaccinated.
Public health reported 406 new COVID-19 cases Monday and another 349 for Sunday. It also said there were 5,624 active cases in the community. However, true numbers are believed to be at least two or three times higher.
A disclaimer on the public health website noted that due to a surge in cases from the Omicron variant, plus limited testing and changes in case management, “data should be interpreted with caution.”
There were 59 outbreaks reported Monday, including 30 in seniors or health-care settings.
Those include four at Niagara Falls hospital (Brock, Rainbow, Trillium and D units); two at St. Catharines hospital (units 5A and 3B); at Welland hospital in the extended care unit and on the fourth floor; at Hotel Dieu Shaver (entire facility) and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby (in the B and OBS wards).
A full list of seniors- or health-care related outbreaks is at NiagaraRegion.ca/health/inspect