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Jan. 27, 2022 | Thursday
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People still need to get tested for COVID, Hirji says
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Niagara’s top doctor is worried too few people are getting tested for COVID-19.

While cases are continuing to decline in Niagara, so is the number of people getting tested, Dr. Mustafa Hirji told reporters Monday.

And although it makes sense that testing will be lower if less people are getting sick, the number of people getting tested is below where it was last October — a time when case numbers were lower than they currently stand.

He said the number of people getting testing is "probably the lowest it's been in almost a year."

"This is worrying me that people are perhaps not getting tested as much any more," Hirji said.

He said it is "really important that people who have any kind of mild symptom of illness get tested so we can make sure we find every case of COVID-19, and do our detailed contact tracing to make sure we isolate anybody who could be spreading infection."

Without testing, contact tracing is much more difficult, he said.

"A key message I really want to emphasize to the public is the importance of, once again, making sure to pay attention to our health, pay attention if we have any symptoms of illness, and making sure we're getting tested."

Provincially, cases are still declining quickly, with the reproductive number of the virus staying at about 0.8. The reproductive number is how many people are predicted to catch the virus for every person who gets it. A number below one indicates cases are coming down.

In Niagara, Hirji said cases in the next couple of weeks should be around where they were last fall, which will allow for better contact tracing.

Hospitalizations are "very much trending down," he said, however the number of people in ICU is taking longer to fall, with more people still in ICUs across the province than there were during the peak of the second wave.

There are now about 580 people in ICU in Ontario. The province's danger threshold is 150 people in ICU before hospitals are overwhelmed.

"This is usually expected because people who are severe enough to be in the ICU tend to take longer to get better," he said.