Ontario’s pandemic advisers predict COVID-19 case counts could rise to 3,000 a day by mid-January without even accounting for the Omicron variant. New projections from the science advisory table also suggest hospitals may be strained, with close to 400 COVID-19 patients in intensive care — more than double the 165 currently in ICU’s. Advisory panel member Dr. Allison McGeer says the predicted trends are the result of exponential case growth that began in October and accelerated as cases multiplied. The projections don’t factor in the possibility of increased socialization over the holidays and the panel is calling for increased vaccination and province-wide public health measures to reduce transmission.
3. Significant uncertainty with Omicron: pic.twitter.com/k4SJddLZry
— Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac) December 7, 2021
Growing Calls For The Government To Start Using The Rapid Tests We Paid For:
Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table is set to release new recommendations today on rapid testing as the province faces growing calls to make the tests more widely available. The group’s scientific adviser, Dr. Peter Juni, says it would make sense from a scientific perspective to use rapid tests more often, particularly in schools, workplaces and other congregate settings. Families across the province have long sought access to rapid tests and the Opposition parties say more should be handed out — particularly in winter months when infections typically rise. A government spokeswoman says Ontario has been distributing about a million tests each week and 11-million are earmarked over the holidays for public and First Nation schools.
Ontario Extends Sick Leave Benefits:
Ontario is extending its temporary paid sick leave program until July. The program offers three days of paid sick leave for each worker, and employers are reimbursed for up to $200-dollars per day for each employee through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Opposition politicians have urged the Progressive Conservative government to keep the program in place amid rising COVID-19 cases.
The Ontario Reopening Remains Paused:
Ontario is pressing pause on its plans to lift capacity limits in some remaining venues where proof of vaccination is required. That includes food or drink establishments with dance facilities, strip clubs, and other high-risk settings. Ontario’s top doctor says the province is still learning things about the Omicron variant such as its transmissibility, severity and impact on vaccine effectiveness. Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table is warning the province could see up to three-thousand infections per day by mid-January if it continues on its current path.
Dr DeVilla Taking a Leave of Absence:
Toronto’s top doctor says she’s taking a brief leave of absence to undergo surgery to remove precancerous cells. Dr. Eileen de Villa, who has become a familiar figure in the city since the pandemic hit, shared the news in a written statement yesterday. De Villa says she had a routine screening mammogram this summer, which identified precancerous cells. She says she is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove the cells today and that any further treatment will be determined after the surgery. De Villa says she’s planning to return to work on Dec. 20 and urged others to not put off recommended screening programs. The city’s deputy medical officer of health, Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, will be acting medical officer of health in de Villa’s absence.
Statement from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health: Leave of Absence @epdevilla
Read the statement: https://t.co/mfl1X6rWmo
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) December 7, 2021
Tourism Already Suffering From Omicron:
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada says some travellers have already called off holiday travel plans as information trickles out about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. CEO Beth Potter says airlines and hotels have not seen a surge in December bookings amid concerns about the new strain. ATB Capital Markets says airline stocks have rebounded slightly from an Omicron-induced dip over the past two weeks after preliminary data emerged suggesting the variant may not be as severe as initially feared. But new travel restrictions are complicating matters while critical questions about the fresh strain remain unanswered, including how effective current vaccines are against it.
Another Public Health Unit Imposes New Restrictions:
Chatham-Kent Public Health has issued a set of instructions for residents in the region to control the spread of COVID-19. Among other restrictions, the public health unit is reducing its social gathering limit of 25 people for indoor events to a limit of 10 people. It’s also calling on businesses to enable remote work for workers, where reasonably possible, and review workplace safety plans with workers regularly. The public health measures kick in on Friday, the same day the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is also set to impose stricter COVID-19 rules amid a spike in cases.
There were 928 new cases of COVID-19 and nine virus-related deaths in Ontario yesterday. Of the new cases, 450 were in people who aren’t fully vaccinated against the virus and 77 people have an unknown vaccination status. There are 165 people in ICUs with COVID-19 related illness, including 95 on ventilators.
In Ontario, 24,076,464 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.1% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.4% have two doses.
340 people are hospitalized with #COVID19. 265 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 75 are fully vaccinated.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 7, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Public Health of Waterloo Region confirmed 32 new cases yesterday. There was 1 new death. Hospitalizations are down to 11. Active cases sits at 293.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed 6 new cases yesterday. There are now 2 people hospitalized with 122 active cases in the PHU.
Introducing our 2020 Community Report!
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 7, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot