December 10, 2023

The highly transmissible COVID subvariant Kraken has made the most inroads in the communities surrounding Hamilton.

The highest number of cases in Ontario is in Niagara, where 18 residents tested positive for Kraken — the proper name is XBB.1.5 — from Dec. 4 to Dec. 31. It made up 2.7 per cent of Niagara’s COVID cases during that time shows data from Public Health Ontario.

The community where the subvariant accounted for the most number of infections was in Haldimand and Norfolk with XBB.1.5 accounting for 5.3 per cent of cases — nearly triple the provincial average. In real numbers, it’s eight infections.

The next highest is Brant County with 3.7 per cent of COVID cases being Kraken, which is six positive tests.

These numbers are expected to be significantly higher now as Kraken was estimated to have shot up to 22 per cent of Ontario’s COVID cases as of Wednesday compared to two per cent at the end of December.

The rise of Kraken comes at the same time McMaster Children’s Hospital has started to see some relief from a surge of viral illness that caused a crisis in pediatric care from October to December.

For the first time, Hamilton Health Sciences has provided data on how many critically ill teens had to be cared for in adult intensive care units (ICU) because McMaster was overwhelmed. Since Nov. 1, eight youth aged 14 to 17 went to Juravinski or Hamilton General hospitals instead. This number doesn’t include trauma patients aged 16 to 17 who normally go to Hamilton General.

Similar information has not been provided on how many teens received surgery at adult hospitals during the crisis.

So far, COVID transmission is on a downward trend in Hamilton. Kraken wasn’t a big factor in December, making up only 0.3 per cent of cases for a total of two infections. However, it’s unknown what the subvariant is at now.

Public health didn’t include any information about XBB.1.5 in its latest weekly update Wednesday.

“COVID-19 transmission in Hamilton is high and decreasing,” stated the update. “COVID-19 reported cases, test positivity, and the number of active outbreaks have decreased, while COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions and wastewater signal are stable.”

Flu is now spreading less than COVID, shows the update.

“Influenza transmission in Hamilton is low and decreasing,” stated the update.

Hamilton had no flu outbreaks in high-risk settings as of Wednesday. Out of the 22 active outbreaks, 14 of them are COVID, four are respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), three are rhinovirus and one is enterovirus rhinovirus.

The largest ongoing outbreak is at Grace Villa, where 124 have tested positive for COVID at the long-term care home on east Mountain since Christmas Day.

There is also a large outbreak at Chartwell Willowgrove Long Term Care Residence in Ancaster, where 80 have been infected with COVID since Jan. 1.

Deaths have been reported in three ongoing COVID outbreaks: Parkview Nursing Centre in west Hamilton has had four fatalities and 41 cases since Jan. 9; Heritage Green Nursing Home in Stoney Creek has had one death and 40 test positive since Jan. 4; and Regina Gardens Long Term Care Residence on the west Mountain has had one fatality and eight cases from Dec. 31 to Jan. 16.

The city has also reported the COVID deaths of three seniors age 80 and older from Jan. 10 to Jan. 17 to bring Hamilton’s pandemic fatalities to 662.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *