During a hospital board meeting that began with Windsor’s mayor presenting awards to Windsor Regional Hospital staff for getting the city through the pandemic, the hospital’s CEO warned that COVID is still present — and infections are expected to climb.
In his report to the board, CEO David Musyj said influenza struck early in Windsor-Essex this season and the hospital is now seeing fewer people sick with the flu. But wastewater surveillance for COVID — an early predictor of community illness — shows a rise in virus activity to levels not seen since last spring.
Windsor Star Headline News
Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Windsor Star, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails or any newsletter. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300
“Unfortunately, we are not out of this pandemic,” Musyj said. “As we know, the more this virus replicates, the more it mutates (into) possibly different variants.”
Dr. Wassim Saad, the hospital’s chief of staff, said Windsor is likely seeing cases of a new and highly infectious subvariant of Omicron, the most contagious variant yet of the virus that causes COVID. The subvariant, XBB.1.5, has been nicknamed the “Kraken” variant, and makes up the majority of recent cases in Michigan.
“We know that in Windsor, being a border city, we are going to be one of the first areas in Canada to see a variant like this enter our community,” Saad said. “I don’t think there’s any question that it’s already in our community.”
At least one study has found that the bivalent COVID vaccine “do have good effect” against the subvariant, he said. Therapeutic measures, namely the antiviral treatments remdesivir or paxlovid, are also effective.
“With simple vaccination and mask use, we still have great mitigation strategies for the spread of the virus, and we still have therapeutics that can work for it,” Saad said. “What we do not know yet about … the Kraken variant is how deadly it is — this is a variant that you will be hearing a lot about in the next couple of weeks because it is likely to become globally dominant in the near future.”
Windsor Regional continues to assess and treat people with COVID at its assessment centre, which has recently broadened its purview.
In November, the hospital received approval from the province to expand the assessment centre to include adult and pediatric patients experiencing all respiratory illnesses.
Karen Riddell, the hospital’s chief n