29 new COVID-19 cases in Niagara Monday

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Niagara Region Public Health is asking residents to remain patient, in anticipation of wait times and glitches as residents begin using the provincial government’s website and phone line to schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations.

As public health prepares for Thursday’s opening of its first mass vaccination clinic, at MacBain Community Centre in Niagara Falls — one of 11 sites selected throughout Niagara communities — the province is now allowing people who are turning 80 or older this year to schedule appointments for vaccinations through its website here, or by calling 1-888-999-6488.

“For one year, we’ve been anxiously awaiting a vaccination campaign that could tame this pandemic,” said Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, in a media release.

“With the launch of Ontario’s vaccination registration system, that campaign has arrived in earnest with anyone 80 years of age or older now eligible to register. While being patient in case of any hiccups, I encourage everyone eligible to register for their vaccine soon so that we can move on to opening bookings for the next age group.”

Niagara public health officials turned to social media Monday warning residents about one glitch.

After some users of the province’s online registration system received a message saying “Form has been tampered with,” the health department is advising people it is a technical problem and the provincial government is working to resolve it as quickly as possible.

People arriving for vaccinations are asked to arrive no more than five minutes before their appointment. They will need their booking confirmation number or QR code from the provincial booking portal and their health card, and they should wear a loose-fitting shirt and a mask.

Niagara Region Public Health inoculated an additional 36 people Monday, for a total of 13,286 vaccines administered so far. That’s in addition to more than 24,360 doses provided by Niagara Health as of last week, at the hospital system’s clinic at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre in St. Catharines.

Niagara reported 29 new COVID-19 cases Monday, and 190 new cases in the past week, compared to 181 in the week before.

There has been a gradual increase in the number of active cases in the region, with 265 reported Monday, an increase of 10 in the past day and up from 196 reported a week ago.

No new deaths were reported Monday, and Niagara Health had five patients in hospital as of Sunday.

There was one new variant of concern reported, for a total of 118 cases of the more contagious strain of the coronavirus. Four have been identified as the U.K. variant, B.1.1.1.7.