Today Premier Ford will be joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kieran Moore to announce some changes to Ontario’s pandemic response and reopening plan. Reports say Ford will announce he’s withdrawing his plan to end vaccine passports in mid-January. He is also expected to make it more difficult to get a medical exemption for COVID vaccines, and require anyone showing proof of vaccination to use the QR code version. There is no indication if the Premier will impose new restrictions on businesses or gathering limits.
I can confirm what @CBCQueensPark has reported: vax passports will stay longer than Jan. 17, QR code to be mandatory (likely in new year), no plans to shut down schools- and I'm also hearing there will a much stricter process for verifying medical exemptions. Story coming #onpoli https://t.co/ktZ2oVv7Bp
— Laura Stone (@l_stone) December 9, 2021
Auditor General Critical Of Trudeau On Border Enforcement:
A report by the auditor general shows Canada failed to adequately enforce border measures designed to keep international travellers from importing cases of COVID-19. The AG says the Public Health Agency of Canada had no idea what became of 59 per cent of travellers suspected of flouting quarantine orders. The auditor assessed enforcement of quarantine and COVID-19 test mandates between July 1st, 2020, and June 30th, 2021. The report comes as Canada reinstitutes several stringent border measures, including mandatory quarantines, because of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Freeland Wants New Pandemic Aid Expedited:
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is asking MPs to quickly approve a new round of pandemic aid. This follows the appearance of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. She says the variant has injected uncertainty into the economy. Freeland notes Bill C-2 would allow the federal government to immediately help workers and businesses affected by local lockdowns. Freeland made the comments at the start of a two-hour appearance before the House of Commons finance committee yesterday.
The Science Advisors Want More Testing:
Ontario’s science advisory table says the province could use rapid testing in many ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 in areas where transmission rates are higher. The group is recommending health officials implement voluntary rapid testing in settings such as schools and workplaces in areas with higher transmission, as often as two to three times a week in some situations. It says elementary schools should be the priority since students under 12 aren’t fully vaccinated yet. The province has resisted calls to provide greater access to free testing — standing by its approach that includes sending five tests home with public school children over the holidays.
Our latest assessment (1st of thread): Cases are rising, even without much Omicron yet. Our hospitals & ICUs are feeling pressure again. We need to increase vaccination & we can’t let up on public health measures. #COVID19ON https://t.co/OG9Dj5JjYa
— COVIDScienceOntario (@COVIDSciOntario) December 7, 2021
More Bad News For Holiday Plans:
Three health units in southwestern Ontario are recommending stricter limits on holiday gatherings amid rising cases of COVID-19. Huron Perth Public Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health say indoor social gatherings in private dwellings should be capped at a maximum of 10 people. They also say all attendees aged 12 and older should be vaccinated — and that anyone in that age group who is unvaccinated should avoid any non-essential indoor contact with people outside their households. The public health units are also recommending that people work remotely wherever possible.
CDC Studies Vaccine Effectiveness:
The ability of the COVID vaccines to prevent severe illness and hospitalization wanes over time, a CDC study finds. Researchers found that the effectiveness of severe illness prevention drops from as high as 89 percent to as low as 75 percent 120 days after the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is received. The data was gathered by the agency from February to September, though, meaning the Omicron variant had not yet been discovered at the time.
Recent data on #COVID19 vaccine effectiveness show that COVID-19 vaccines provide substantial protection against COVID-19, including severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
— CDC (@CDCgov) December 9, 2021
FDA Approves Boosters for More Teens:
The FDA announced yesterday that it has approved a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for ages 16-17 six months after their primary two doses. This follows the FDA approval of Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for adults 18 and older last month.
— CDC (@CDCgov) December 9, 2021
Are Airlines Ready For The Holiday Rush?
The recovery of the airline industry in the US is being tested this holiday season as passengers return in near pre-pandemic numbers. The US Transportation Security Administration reports that passenger checkpoints are nearly as busy now as they were before the pandemic. Airlines have been ramping up capacity to meet pent-up demand, but the industry is hampered by a lagging workforce recovery. That’s raised concerns that major airlines in the U-S could be in for a rough December.
Ontario logged 1,290 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, along with nine new virus-related deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott says people who are not vaccinated make up 590 of the new cases, and account for 23 per cent of Ontario’s population. She says 83 of the new cases are in people whose vaccination status isn’t known. There are 155 patients are in ICUs due to COVID-19, and 131 of them unvaccinated or have an unknown immunization status.
In Ontario, 24,225,882 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.2% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.4% have two doses.
309 people are hospitalized with #COVID19. 232 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 77 are fully vaccinated.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 9, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
46 new cases were reported yesterday by Public Health of Waterloo Region. There were no new deaths and hospitalizations dropped to 12. There are now 346 active cases.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 18 new cases yesterday. There are now 151 active cases with 4 people in hospital.
The COVID-19 vaccine lowers the risk of kids getting seriously ill with COVID-19. Protect your child and their friends and family.
There are vaccine appointments available for 5 to 11 year olds before the holidays!
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 9, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot