Windsor Regional Hospital reports COVID rise, warns of new ‘Kraken’ variant

Windsor Regional Hospital reports COVID rise, warns of new ‘Kraken’ variant

Breadcrumb Trail Links Local News Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj is pictured outside the Met Campus on Friday March 5, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star article content

During a hospital board meeting that began with the Mayor of Windsor presenting awards to staff at Windsor Regional Hospital in a bid to get the city through the pandemic, the hospital’s CEO warned that COVID is still here – and the infections likely to be will increase.

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In his report to the board, CEO David Musyj said the flu struck Windsor-Essex early and the hospital was seeing fewer people sick with the flu. But sewage surveillance for COVID — an early predictor of community diseases — is showing a surge in viral activity to levels not seen since the spring.

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“Unfortunately, we are not out of this pandemic,” said Musyj. “As we know, the more this virus replicates, the more it may mutate (into) other variants.”

dr Wassim Saad, the hospital’s chief of staff, said Windsor is likely seeing cases of a new and highly infectious subvariant of Omicron, the most contagious variant of the virus that causes COVID yet. The XBB.1.5 subvariant is nicknamed the “Kraken” variant and accounts for the majority of recent cases in Michigan.

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“We know that in Windsor, as a border city, we will be one of the first areas in Canada where a variant like this comes into our community,” Saad said. “I don’t think there’s any question that it’s already in our community.”

At least one study has found the bivalent COVID vaccine to have “a good effect” against the subvariant, he said. Therapeutic measures, namely the antiviral drugs Remdesivir or Paxlovid, are also effective.

“With simple vaccination and use of masks, we still have great strategies to contain the spread of the virus, and we still have therapeutics that can work against it,” Saad said. “What we don’t know yet… the Kraken variant is how deadly it is – it’s a variant that you’re going to be hearing a lot about over the next few weeks because it’s likely to become dominant around the world in the near future.”

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Windsor Regional continues to assess and treat people with COVID at its assessment centre, which has recently expanded its remit.

In November, the hospital received provincial approval to expand the assessment center to include adult and pediatric patients with all respiratory conditions.

Karen Riddell, the hospital’s chief nurse, reported that the clinic treats between 40 and 70 patients a day. The majority of these patients require COVID testing, and between one and five patients per day are eligible for and treated with remdesivir or paxlovid.

Musyj said the clinic is guaranteed to remain open until at least March 31. Given the number of patients she continues to divert from emergency rooms, he wants the province to keep her open indefinitely.

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Article content Windsor hospital officials are hoping the worst of the flu season will be over soon. Windsor Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 center is now treating all respiratory conditions. A local company is offering a test to determine your immunity to COVID-19

The Assessment Clinic will continue to operate seven days a week, including holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It provides COVID-19 testing for eligible patients, clinical assessments for respiratory disease, and clinical treatments for COVID.

Appointments are required and can be made online at or by calling 519-973-4443.

Individuals are encouraged to seek treatment from their GP before making an appointment at the hospital’s clinic.

Children with breathing difficulties, excessive vomiting, altered consciousness, lacerations, or broken bones should still call 911 or go to the emergency room, as should adults with severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness, or confusion.

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