Ontarians with COVID-19 symptoms can leave isolation sooner than the required five days if two rapid antigen tests come back negative. Chief public health officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, says people can resume their regular activities if they receive two negative rapid test results separated by 24 to 48 hours and if their symptoms improve for 24 hours. The province says it expects rapid tests are being reserved for test-to-work plans so people can resume work sooner after an exposure, regular testing of workers in high-risk jobs and for people with symptoms who aren’t eligible for PCR tests.
O’Toole Tells Trudeau To Tone Down The Rhetoric On Vaccines:
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says those unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be accommodated through measures like rapid testing. Mandatory vaccination policies have proven to be a difficult issue for O’Toole to navigate, even within his own caucus, as some of his MPs have refused to confirm their status. Some Tory MPs forcefully condemn vaccine mandates as threatening people’s livelihoods and violating their medical privacy.
Some Hospitals Getting Full:
Some Ontario hospitals are already feeling the COVID crunch, as doctors are forced to self-isolate after being exposed to the virus and admissions continue to climb. Grand River Hospital in Kitchener says 200 of its 4,300 staff are currently isolating, as are 89 of the 1,700 staff at Saint Mary’s General Hospital. Meanwhile, Niagara Health has temporarily removed its requirement that all staffers be vaccinated to account for employees in isolation.
Ontario Now Rationing Rapid Tests:
The Ontario government says supply of COVID-19 rapid tests is being limited to high-risk sectors for the time being, with demand expected to increase to 18-million per week this month. Supply will go first to settings like long-term care homes, hospitals, shelters and Indigenous communities, with further supply for some education settings and workplaces with vaccine-or-test mandates. The province says it’s developing plans to expand public access to the tests, but that will depend on supply. It says the federal government has committed to send more than 54-million rapid tests to Ontario for January, and the province has purchased 85-million tests.
Canadian Airlines Slashing Flight Schedules:
Canadian airlines are slashing their flight schedules as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on air industry plans and profits. Air Transat says it’s cancelling nearly 30 per cent of its flights through to February 25th due to the impact of the Omicron variant and the federal recommendation against non-essential foreign travel. Air Canada says it’s suspending flights to at least 14 Caribbean destinations, effective January 24th through April 30th. The moves come a week after WestJet cut 15 per cent of its scheduled flights through to the end of January, citing a high proportion of flight crews calling in sick.
5,000 Part Time Employees Laid Off At Cineplex:
Cineplex says it has temporarily laid off nearly 5,000 part-time employees after it was forced to close all of its venues in Ontario due to the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions. Canada’s largest movie chain shuttered 67 theatres along with indoor concert venues, museums, galleries and other attractions in Ontario on Wednesday. They are to remain closed until at least January 26th under policies meant to curtail the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. Cineplex says it will offer full refunds to customers who had booked tickets in advance.
New Vaccine Options For School & Childcare Staff:
Efforts are underway to provide school and child care staff with priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations in an effort to support the safe return to in-class learning on January 17th. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says those workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area will have planned access to vaccines at the International Centre in Mississauga starting today. The City of Toronto says it’s opening appointments dedicated to education workers at two city-run immunization clinics on Sunday — which will help more than 35-hundred get vaccinated as soon as possible. Lecce says the government will work with all other public health units to set up more clinics across Ontario.
We are protecting Ontario schools and child care centres by deploying N95s for staff, accelerating booster access, and introducing stricter screening.
All designed to keep students, staff, and families as safe as possible. pic.twitter.com/E1yBrUpb4Z
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) January 6, 2022
Doctors Say The Kid Rate of Vaccination is Too Low:
Health Canada says 39 per cent of children between the ages of five and 11 have now received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But Doctor Ran Goldman, a pediatrician who is also a professor at the University of British Columbia, says that rate is too low. He’s advising parents with questions about the safety of the vaccine to get them answered through a personal connection with a pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
The Number Of Outbreaks Is Growing In Long Term Care:
There are now 186 outbreaks in long-term care homes in 30 of Ontario’s 34 public health units. And Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips says he expects those numbers will continue to rise due the fast spreading Omicron variant. Phillips says staff absence rates range from 20 to 30 per cent in some of the hardest-hit areas and that his ministry is in contact daily with homes that are struggling. Meanwhile, the province’s most populous city says today it will begin administering fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to residents in City of Toronto-run long-term care homes.
To protect against the highly transmissible #Omicron variant, all staff and caregivers in #longtermcare homes who are eligible for a third vaccine dose by December 31, 2021 must receive that dose by January 28, 2022. To learn more: https://t.co/VnGt7y4ABh pic.twitter.com/6IsY3w1pXk
— Ontario Long-Term Care (@ONlongtermcare) December 30, 2021
Moderna Calling For Fourth Shots:
A fourth injection to protect against COVID might be necessary, the CEO of Moderna said yesterday – adding that he expected the data from booster shots administered this fall was “not going to hold great.” Stephane Bancel told a conference of healthcare professionals yesterday that he believed getting jabbed regularly would become a way of life. He said the company is working on a vaccine candidate tailored to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to be available in the next two months. “I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel said.
A New COVID Scam is Making The Rounds:
Barrie police are warning the public after one of its officers received a text message on a police-issue phone. The force says the message was about a so-called Canada COVID Omicron emergency benefit program along with a link to click on to receive payment. There is no Omicron emergency benefit. Police say to delete the text and similar messages.
Having COVID May Not Mean An Athlete Is Out Of The Olympics:
The International Olympic Committee says a positive COVID-19 test may not mean an athlete is excluded from the Games. The IOC’s executive director spoke from Geneva and says they want to avoid spoiling years of preparation at the last minute. The IOC this week promised Olympic teams worldwide that the Winter Games in Beijing will go ahead as planned next month.
Ontario announced 2,279 patients in hospital with COVID-19 yesterday, including 319 people in ICUs. That’s up from 2,081 patients hospitalized and 288 people in ICUs on Wednesday. The province also reported 13,339 new COVID-19 cases, but Public Health Ontario says the actual case count is likely higher due to the current testing policy. 20 more virus-related deaths were reported.
2,279 people are hospitalized with #COVID19.
There are 319 people in ICU with COVID-19. 232 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 87 are fully vaccinated.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 related patients in ICU is 252.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) January 6, 2022
Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health confirmed 69 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of yesterday. Only 6 of those 65 are in Intensive care. There are 4,281 active cases.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says there are 17 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in their jurisdiction. Only 3 of them are in the ICU. There are 2,474 active cases.
If you have an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccine but are feeling sick, we ask that you reschedule your appointment.
Our vaccination clinics, pharmacies and doctor's offices will happily reschedule once you are out of isolation & feeling better. pic.twitter.com/hdmXXJdhM5
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) January 6, 2022
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot