KITCHENER -- Public health officials are warning that we are still in the early stages of the pandemic, as the region reports 3 more people have died of complications related to COVID-19.

This brings the total number of deaths to seven in Waterloo Region.

The latest deaths include two women and one man between the ages of 70 to 80.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who recently passed, as well as to the healthcare workers whose case they were under,” says Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Waterloo Region's acting medical officer of health.

All three patients had existing medical conditions and were hospitalized at the time of their deaths, according to health officials.

On Wednesday morning, the Region of Waterloo Public Health website reported another 13 cases, for a total of 220 cases in the area.

“As we are still in early stages of the pandemic, we have and will continue to see for some time daily increases in the number of cases, and sadly we continue to see more deaths as a result of COVID-19,” Dr. Wang says.

Of the total number of cases, 64 are listed as recovered, rising from 54 resolved cases the day prior.

Former Waterloo mayor Arthur Paleczny was confirmed as the region’s fourth COVID-19 death on Tuesday.

He was the second person living at Highview Residence in Kitchener who died of the disease.

The long-term care home first declared an outbreak on April 1, with a total of 10 residents and 1 staff member there having tested positive for the virus.

On Wednesday, two new outbreaks were declared at long-term care or retirement homes in the region, for a total of nine homes affected.

“This is what we expected, it continues to highlight that this is a more vulnerable population to COVID-19,” says Dr. Wang.

Lanark Heights and St. Andrew’s Terrarce are the latest homes to be added to the list, each reporting a case of COVID-19 amongst a resident or staff member.

Dr. Wang adds that the outbreaks also demonstrate the need for strict physical distancing measures to stay in place, particularly approaching Easter weekend.

To date, 2,635 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, with 1,999 of those coming back negative.

The results of another 416 tests are still pending.

There are now 5,276 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario, including 174 deceased patients.