New Modelling Data Comes Out Today – Full COVID-19 Update

New Modelling Data Comes Out Today – Full COVID-19 Update

Ontario’s science advisory table is set to release new modelling today, as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the province. The province’s chief medical officer of health is also scheduled to provide an update about the COVID-19 situation in Ontario today, in addition to his regular Thursday briefing. Dr. Kieran Moore will likely face questions about the Omicron variant, with at least 13 cases detected so far in the province and the London-area health unit investigating a potential cluster of 30. Ontario’s seven-day average of daily new cases is up to 940, a level not seen since the decline of the third wave in early June.

The Omicron Variant Could Push Back The Repeal Of Vaccine Passports:

Health Minister Christine Elliot says it’s too early to determine whether the province’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions will need to be altered due to the potentially dangerous Omicron variant. Elliot says the province doesn’t have the pertinent information it needs to make a decision — and it could take months to determine if the strain is as virulent as others. She made the comment when asked by the Opposition about the province’s plan to loosen rules on vaccine certificates in some settings as early as January 17th. Public health data shows there have now been at least 13 cases of the new Omicron variant confirmed in Ontario. 

More Government Contracts Awarded For COVID Testing:

Switch Health, LifeLabs and Dynacare have been awarded federal contracts to provide COVID-19 testing of international travellers entering Canada at airports and land border crossings. Public Services and Procurement Canada says the total approved value of the contracts is $631-million dollars but that amount may not be fully spent as the companies are paid for services delivered. A spokesman says the services include appointment booking, test administration and results management.  Switch Health is responsible for testing services in Ontario, Alberta and Atlantic Canada, LifeLabs is providing services in BC, Saskatchewan and Yukon and Dynacare in Quebec and Manitoba.

Big Outbreak Declared in London:

The local health unit in the London area says it’s investigating a cluster of cases of COVID-19 with a strong probability of the Omicron variant. The Middlesex-London Health Unit says it has identified at least 30 cases associated with the cluster of suspected Omicron cases and the number of high-risk close contacts is expected to surpass 100. The unit says it learned last night that two people who are part of the cluster linked to travellers who returned from Nigeria in late November had screened positive for a gene that is a marker for the variant. It says cases associated with the cluster have been linked to several schools and child-care centres, as well as an outbreak at a church called God’s Favourite House. 

A Letter About Criminalizing The Unvaccinated That Circulated Yesterday Was a Fake:

The Ministry of Health says it has contacted police about a fake letter from the province purportedly calling on Ottawa to apprehend those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. The letter circulating online appears to come from Health Minister Christine Elliot and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and also calls on the federal government to criminalize being unvaccinated. But Elliot’s office says no such letter has been drafted or sent from either minister. It says the matter has been referred to the OPP because falsifying documents is a criminal offence.

Using the ArriveCAN App Will No Longer Be Mandatory:

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says travellers will have the opportunity to give their travel information in person or through the ArriveCan app. Until now, anyone coming into Canada had to enter their travel details in the app or else be denied boarding or subject to a two-week quarantine on arrival. The Conservatives have criticized the app, saying MPs have received complaints it is inaccessible and unreliable.

Poll Finds Canadians Want to Keep Omicron Out:

More than four in five respondents to an online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they support closing the Canadian border to travellers coming from countries where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is present. Sixty-eight per cent say they would approve of reintroducing restrictions in Canada like social distancing and temporary lockdowns for certain public places and certain activities. A majority of respondents say they are in favour of possibly closing Canada’s border with the United States for a period of time. Seventy-eight per cent say they would support the Canadian government accelerating plans to introduce a booster or third dose of approved COVID-19 vaccines to certain populations. In response to the detection of Omicron, Canada quickly put in place travel measures, including banning visitors who have recently travelled through 10 African countries, to curb the spread.

More Jail Employees Placed on Unpaid Leave:

All unvaccinated employees at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton have been placed on temporary unpaid leave due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Ministry of the Solicitor General says employees who failed to disclose their vaccination status are also on leave due to a recent order issued by Halton Public Health. Ontario public service rules require correctional employees who are not fully vaccinated to complete regular antigen testing — but a local health order says that’s no longer accepted as a substitute for vaccination for jail employees. The ministry did not say how many staff are affected, citing security reasons.

Toronto Claims There Haven’t Been Many Breakthrough Cases:

Toronto health officials say breakthrough COVID-19 infections have occurred in 0.17 per cent of fully vaccinated residents in the city. The local health unit says that represents 3,936 cases in nearly 2.3 million Toronto residents 12 and older who were fully vaccinated at the time of the analysis. The health unit says its data show that people who are unvaccinated are two times more likely to become infected with COVID-19, five times more likely to become hospitalized, and 20 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit than those who are fully vaccinated. It says unvaccinated people are also four times more likely to die from COVID-19, compared with fully vaccinated people.

New York Goes All In On COVID Restrictions: 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is tightening COVID-19 restrictions in the wake of the new Omicron COVID variant in what he is describing as a pre-emptive strike against the virus.  The mayor announced yesterday that he would soon institute a vaccine mandate for private sector employees in the city and make children aged five to 11 show proof of vaccination to take part in indoor dining, fitness or entertainment activities.

Ontario Numbers:

Ontario added 887 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, pushing the seven-day average to 940. The province also logged three more deaths due to the virus. Provincial data show 168 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, though not all hospitals provide updated numbers on weekends. Data also show there have now been at least 13 cases of the new Omicron variant confirmed in Ontario.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Public Health of Waterloo Region announced 125 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. That was from the whole weekend. There were no new deaths. Active cases have climbed to 282. There are 12 people hospitalized.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed 73 new cases from the weekend. There were no new deaths. There are now 135 active cases with 1 COVID-19 patient in hospital. 

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot

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