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Durham seeing record numbers of new COVID-19 cases

New daily cases of COVID-19 in Durham over the past week have been the largest since the start of the pandemic.

Durham reported 259 new cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,073 active cases across the region.

“Case and contact management continue to be key Health Department COVID-19 response activities to help control the spread of illness,” says Durham Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Kyle.

He says case management begins with notifying positive cases and collecting information from them to determine potential risk to the community.

Due to the significant increase in cases, the health department has implemented a “virtual assistant” to help with notifying positive cases and collecting preliminary information prior to the initial phone call from public health.

Kyle says residents who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a text message from Durham Region Health Department with a secure link to complete a personal assessment survey, which will collect information about their health status, close contacts and potential exposures to COVID-19.

The information collected is confidential and is protected by Ontario’s privacy laws.

“All positive cases will continue to receive a call from public health,” says Kyle. “The virtual assistant helps prepare clients for further contact from health department staff and helps to focus the conversations on the follow-up, clarifications and instructions required thereafter.”

Completing the survey is optional and clients can opt out of receiving texts from the virtual assistant at any time.

Kyle adds that, in some cases, residents who test positive may not receive a text message, such as when they haven’t provided a mobile phone number at the time of testing.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread across the region, please continue to follow public health measures, stay at home as much as possible, avoid social gatherings and any non-essential travel, and where possible, work remotely,” says Kyle.

Of the 2,073 active cases in the region, there are 1,996 people in home isolation and 77 people are in hospital with 28 in the ICU.

Of the active cases, 1,501 are COVID-19 variants of concern, with a seven-day moving average to a 77 per cent positivity rate.

There were also two new deaths reported in the last week – one on April 10 and one on April 13.