Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, a total of 837 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported by Ohsweken Public Health.
To date — 29.7% of cases are in those aged 20 and under. Cases in the 20-39 year age bracket make up 31.68% of all confirmed infections. Those between the ages of 40-59 have a reduced rate of reported cases making up just 23.76% of COVID-19 cases to date and persons aged 60-79 are have made up just 12.87% of all reported COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic on Six Nations.
As the community heads into another wave of case increases on the territory we are navigating our way into uncharted waters — the lowest vaccine rate and highest case rate in the whole province right at the launch of a new unknown — Omicron.
There is a lot we don’t know about Omicron but here are some early notes.
Of the 11 cases identified in Alberta — 7 out of the 11 people infected were fully vaccinated individuals. Two were partially vaccinated and two were unvaccinated.
Five cases have been identified in BC — three in persons fully vaccinated and two in unvaccinated individuals. All haver reported a mild or asymptomatic presentation of the virus.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit says 40 people are infected with Omicron in the London area. A total of 171 high-risk close contacts have been identified — including students in local schools, a child-care centre and a church in south London.
We don’t know where Omicron began — only that it was first detected by researchers in South Africa after an outbreak in Gauteng Province. That does not mean that the variant originated in South Africa, but that it was first identified there. Medical officials in the country say they are being unreasonably punished with travel restrictions worldwide for being transparent and capable of advanced medical analysis due to advanced medical systems the country has used to track HIV and Tuberculosis infections.
The latest projections from Ontario’s COVID -19 Science Advisory Table estimate that the province could see nearly 3000 new cases reported daily with another 400 in intensive care as we still combat COVID Classic, the Delta variant and not accounting for new cases that may be linked to Omicron.
As of Tuesday, there were 165 people in intensive care in Ontario with COVID-19 related critical illness including 95 people on ventilators.
Though to date, Omicron cases seem to be presenting mild symptoms in those infected — we just don’t know. We also don’t know if there are any long-term effects related to Omicron variant infections.
However, the chair of South Africa’s medical association says the symptoms of Omicron variant illness are very different than those from patients infected with Delta variant COVID. With Delta — patients were displaying loss of taste and smell, need for oxygen and an elevated pulse rate. With Omicron — patients in Gauteng are reporting milder symptoms such as body aches, headaches and sore throat. The sick are also not presenting with a severe cough or blocked upper respiratory symptoms. Cases in that region are showing up mostly in those under the age of 50. Health officials say that the Omicron variant also has also shown to appear as a re-infection in people — suggesting that natural antibodies from a previous COVID infection or vaccination may not prevent a person from catching the Omicron variant.
This could be the reason Omicron is spreading so rapidly across South Africa. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says Omicron is rapidly becoming the dominant variant in South Africa and in sample tests is now accounting for more than 74 percent of cases analyzed.
So what does all of this mean for Six Nations?
It means that Six Nations own resources could be quickly depleted as our already exhausted local frontline workers could be overwhelmed — inundated with new infections, testing and contact tracing should a rapidly spreading Omicron variant make its way to the territory — while we are still currently battling a Delta outbreak.
Especially as Six Nations heads into the holidays — leadership from every diverse group on the territory needs to re-affirm that people maintain social distancing, wear masks, keep family gatherings small and stay home if you are ill. Get tested even if it’s just “the sniffles”. And stay safe.