Region reports first COVID-related death in fully immunized woman

Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services reported the first COVID-19 related death in an elderly woman who was fully immunized.

A woman in her nineties, public health said that individual was a resident of Kitchener’s The Village of Winston Park long term care facility. The facility is currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, which Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Region Of Waterloo Dr. Rabia Bana said is believed to be related to the continued spread of the delta variant in our community.

“We have confirmation for at least one case at this point that is delta variant,” said Bana. “Given the circulation of delta variant in our community, we would expect that other cases associated with the outbreak would likely also be delta variant cases.”

According to Schlegel Villages, the company that manages The Village of Winston Park, that individual had tested positive for the virus, though she was only exhibiting mild symptoms. Expressing their condolences to the loved ones and team members facing the loss, the company has indicated that testing is currently underway in the facility.

“I would like to express my deepest sympathy to this individual’s family at this sad time,” said Bana, as she added that the death “is a tragic reminder of the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on families and the community.”

Speaking to ongoing efforts of immunization in the region, Bana said it’s important that residents continue to “remain vigilant” in applying public health measures and in receiving vaccination, especially as we continue to move toward the safe, gradual reopening of the province. Noting that death is a “very rare outcome in fully immunized individuals,” Bana said that full vaccination against COVID-19 has been shown to be very effective in not only reducing burden of illness, but also in “preventing severity of disease, preventing hospitalization and preventing disease.”

“Just like any other intervention, it’s not 100 per cent. However, it’s extremely effective,” said Bana. “The outcome of death is extremely rare in individuals who are fully immunized, and the immune response also depends on a number of other factors such as an individuals health status, other comorbidities they may have, age and factors such as those.”

“Vaccines along with public health measures are still our best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant which is circulating in our community,”

Public Health is currently working with the facility to manage the outbreak and prevent further spread of the virus. Residents of long-term care homes are more vulnerable to severe outcomes from the COVID-19 virus.

“I know our community has really pulled together and worked really hard. It’s time to continue to do a little bit of that work…” said Bana. “…in ensuring we’re maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask, gathering with our households only… or if we’re choosing to gather with others, then to ensure we’re gathering outside and have those protective measures in place – and of course, getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available to us.”

“Those things – if we’re able to continue with those for a little bit longer, we’ll be able to build that protection against the virus in the community and hopefully move toward more of a normal.”


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