Peterborough Public Health (PPH) announced on Wednesday that their COVID-19 Risk Index moved from “low” to “moderate” risk due to an increase in transmission and the first recorded case of the variant BA 2.86 in the region.
The COVID-19 Risk Index uses five categories to inform the level of risk in the region. A chart with the current levels of the Risk Index can be seen here:
The Peterborough Public Health COVID-19 Risk Index as of Sept. 21, 2023. Screenshot taken from the Peterborough Public Health website.
The factors related to community testing indicate “low” and “very low,” which PPH CEO and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Thomas Piggott says could be attributed to fewer people testing. The other categories show an increase in transmission.
“We are able to test for the virus in municipal wastewater and see that there is a substantial jump in COVID-19 being transmitted in the region,” says Piggott.
“Folks are gathering inside as cooler weather hits, people are back to work, back to school. And we are not surprised to see more transmission of COVID-19 as a result.”
PPH safety recommendations during “moderate” risk levels remain “precautionary”: the guidance, found in the COVID-19 Risk Index, includes wearing a non-medical mask when interacting with others, especially in “high risk” situations or indoor “social gatherings.”
Piggott stated in a PPH media release this week that they “received confirmation of [the] first COVID-19 case with the BA 2.86 variant in the region,” another reason for the increased risk assessment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines.”
Piggott indicates that an updated COVID-19 vaccine, designed to be more effective against currently circulating strains of the virus, is anticipated to arrive in Peterborough in the next “couple weeks.”