The Niagara Independent has learned that the Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji has recommended to the Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams that Niagara proceed to Stage 2 reopening.
In his letter Dr. Hirji says, “I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to speak with you and understand the data and process with which the province is using to make evidence-informed decisions on moving public health regions to Stage 2 of reopening, as well as the opportunity to provide my contextual, local perspective. In follow up to those conversations, I’d like to restate the local data and context, and articulate why I believe it indicates that Niagara is ready to proceed to Stage 2.”
Earlier this week some politicians and many of Niagara business leaders, particularly those in the tourism industry, were furious over the fact that Niagara was not included in the original list of regions and municipalities that could move to Stage 2. Many expressed their disappointment and there was confusion as to who actually made the recommendation for Niagara to remain in Stage 1 as well as what data was being used to make the call.
In his letter, Dr. Hirji pointed to five specific reasons why he feels Niagara is ready to enter the next stage of economic reopening. Those reasons included: Niagara’s baseline local disease transmission is low and well-controlled. It has only been recently skewed by a single large agricultural outbreak; Niagara Region Public Health is performing excellent case and contact management, and is ready for a potential increase in cases; Niagara’s hospitals are well-positioned to manage a surge in cases that might unfortunately arise; Niagara has widespread testing in the context of low prevalence; and from a social determinants of health perspective, remaining in Stage 1 is likely causing greater harm to health than would result from potential increased infection transmission in Stage 2.
The province is likely to be evaluating those areas that were left off the list originally and will make a determination if any of them are ready to move forward. It would seem that with Niagara’s recommendation to enter Stage 2 the odds will be in the Regions favour baring any spike in new cases over the weekend.
According to the letter, over the past month, Niagara has reported daily case counts of 5 or less on 24 of 31 days and in the month of June, Niagara has reported a daily case count of zero three times. In the past week Niagara has reported 15 cases averaging just over 2 cases per day.