A northeast Brampton neighbourhood has topped a list for the highest number of COVID-19 test positivity rate at 19 per cent — during the first week of November.
Toronto-based not-for-profit group ICES (formerly known the Institute for Clinical Evaluation Studies) released a list of 30 neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area where percentages of people who tested positive for COVID-19 were highest.
A Brampton neighbourhood — bordered by Queen Street East to the south, Airport Road to the west, Mayfield Road to the north, and Highway 50 to the east — had nearly one in every five people who tested for the coronavirus test positive.
Second on the list was a Toronto area south of Highway 401, east of Jane Street, north of Lawrence Avenue West and west of Caledonia Roadd with a 18.7 per cent positivity rate.
“I think we always knew these areas were hard hit, but what’s new is that these percent positivities are high, higher than what we were expecting,” said ICES senior scientist, Jeff Kwong.
“There’s a lot of crowding in household areas and a lot of those people in those areas have occupations that require them to work outside the house.”
Another area in Brampton directly to its west, bordering Airport Road, also landed fourth on the list at a 16.8 per cent positivity rate.
“I was shocked at some of the postal codes we’re seeing in the Peel Region,” said infectious disease physician Zain Chagla. “That’s unheard of anywhere else in Ontario.”
Chagla, along with other physicians, published a study on Peel’s high COVID-19 positivity rate and determined that the root cause is partially that many people from the area have to work in low-income, crowded work environments.
“There are a disproportionate amount of South-Asian people who face forward, so they’re in the service industry, in the grocery industry, they’re involved in the transport industry and manufacturing industry in crowded settings and they have risks of acquiring [COVID-19] there,” said Chagla.
He adds that what exacerbates the problem is that many people in that area also live in intergenerational households filled with other family members.
“There are, unfortunately, households — some of it is cultural and some it is socioeconomic — that have a significant number of people within the household. Such that, if one person gets infected within the household, many get it downstream because of it.”
Meanwhile, Brampton mayor Patrick Brown is calling on the provincial and federal government for more resources to help residents who test positive for the virus.
“If you contract COVID-19 and you have to isolate and you live paycheck-to-paycheck, a lot of people can’t afford to pay for a 14-day hotel stay.”
He adds that Brampton residents need isolation centres and paid sick leave to be able to afford to quarantine and take time off work, should they feel COVID-19 symptoms.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health told Global News that “local medical officers of health have the ability to tailor restrictions in their communities.”
“Ontario is providing more sites and innovative options such as establishing three new community-based testing centres in Brampton, implementing mobile testing sites, opening limited walk-in availability at assessment centres.”
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