Ontario’s expert pandemic advisory panel says cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 are doubling every three days. The variant was first detected in Ontario two weeks ago and it now makes up 21 per cent of all new cases in the province. An infectious diseases physician at the University of Toronto says Omicron is going to barrel through the province like a freight train. But he says Canada’s relatively high vaccination rate will protect many from the worst outcomes at this stage of the pandemic.
Omicron is here 1/5 We’re now following Omicron closely on our dashboard. Some key figures: Rt for Omicron is 3.32 (!!!), compared to 1.27 for all variants combined…. #COVID19ON https://t.co/U6F16usw2A
— COVIDScienceOntario (@COVIDSciOntario) December 13, 2021
More Restrictions Announced:
Multiple regions in Ontario have announced new public health measures in their fight against the fast-spreading Omicron variant. In Kingston, the medical officer of health said yesterday that social gatherings must be limited to five people and ordered restaurants to close to indoor dining between 10pm and 5am, and to stop serving alcohol at 9pm. Waterloo region’s top doctor said the health unit is recommending people work from home, and advised that schools pause all sports and extracurriculars for the rest of the year. In Toronto, city employees were informed that a return-to-work plan announced weeks earlier wouldn’t go ahead. Also yesterday, millions of residents between the ages of 50 and 69 became eligible for booster shots.
NEWS: @ROWPublicHealth has just received confirmation of four cases of Omicron in residents. There are now nine sports teams that have suspect or confirmed Omicron cases and, at this time, there are over 500 high-risk contacts associated. More details: https://t.co/IZToOkyH3r pic.twitter.com/OOoE1Hl4Jd
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) December 13, 2021
Website Problems Booking Boosters Now Resolved:
The provincial government says technical problems with its online booking portal for COVID-19 boosters were resolved about five hours after expanded bookings opened yesterday. Many social media users complained of issues with the system after 3.4-million people aged 50 to 69 became eligible for third shots. But a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says thousands of appointments had been booked by late morning and the problems were resolved by 12:45pm. People can also book through the provincial phone line, at pharmacies, some primary care sites and through public health units.
As of 3:00pm today, 115,000 Ontarians have signed up to receive their #COVID19 booster dose through the provincial booking system.
If you are eligible, book your appointment now at https://t.co/pxlgLpkLxR or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre: 1-833-943-3900.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 13, 2021
Pfizer Expanding Their Portfolio:
Pfizer is spending 6.7-billion dollars US to buy a drugmaker with no products on the market and a focus on developing treatments for inflammatory conditions like Chrohn’s disease. The pharmaceutical giant says it will pay $100-dollars in cash for each share of Arena Pharmaceuticals in a deal already approved by the boards of both companies. Pfizer says the deal will help bolster its expertise in inflammation and immunology. Arena has a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis in late-stage clinical testing that it also is testing to treat Chrohn’s disease.
US Service Members Fired Over Vaccine Mandate:
The US Air Force has discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them what officials believe are the first service members to be removed for disobeying the vaccine mandate. The Air Force gave its forces until November 2nd to get the vaccine, and thousands have either refused or sought an exemption. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says these are the first to be administratively discharged for reasons involving the vaccine. She said all of them were in their first term of enlistment, so they were younger, lower-ranking personnel.
First omicron Death in the UK:
At least one person infected with the Omicron variant has died in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed yesterday. Johnson reported the death as he warned that COVID-19 strain is spiking now in London and some other parts of the country. “Sadly, at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson told reporters. It’s unclear whether the patient had been vaccinated or had underlying health issues.
British Columbia health officials are reporting more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths over a three-day period. An update on cases of the Omicron variant in the province will be provided at a briefing today. However, a news release from Island Health and the University of Victoria says they’ve identified four cases of the variant from a cluster of 124 COVID infections associated with people who attended off-campus events.
There were more than 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday. The province recorded 1,536 new infections and one new death from the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 634 of the cases are in people who aren’t fully vaccinated and 93 people have unknown vaccination status. There are 80 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant today, but the province’s expert pandemic advisory table estimates the variant actually accounts for 21 per cent of COVID-19 cases.
In Ontario, 24,484,692 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.3% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.6% have two doses.
253 people are hospitalized with #COVID19, and 161 people are in ICU due to COVID-19. Please note that not all hospitals report on weekends.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 13, 2021
Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:
Yesterday Waterloo Region logged 183 new COVID infections. That was the whole weekend total. There were no new deaths. 12 patients are hospitalized. Only 4 of them are in the ICU. There are now 463 active cases. That’s an increase of 106 since Friday.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed 100 new weekend cases yesterday. There was one new death and hospitalizations increased to 5. There are now 224 active cases. 127 of those are in Guelph.
Adults 50+ in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph can book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose online: https://t.co/6h4loerFEE
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 13, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot