All eligible adults in Ontario will be able to book a COVID-19 booster shot appointment come Monday — so long as three months have passed since their second vaccine dose. Premier Ford announced the sped-up booster rollout plan yesterday as a measure to combat the Omicron variant. Anyone who was already eligible for boosters at a longer dose interval can now move appointments up to three months since their second dose. The province also said that starting today, it would cap crowds at 50 per cent for indoor venues with capacity greater than a thousand people, including sports facilities, theatres and concert facilities. the Ministry of Health has urged pharmacists to extend their hours over the holiday season to help get shots in arms. The Premier indicated he is not considering new restrictions on restaurants or retails, at the moment.
Free Rapid Tests Available:
Ontario will provide up to two million rapid tests at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings including malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs. The government will deploy testing teams at nearly 50 locations across the province. Take-home rapid tests will be made available at select LCBO stores this week.
To protect our progress and safeguard hospital and ICU capacity from Omicron, Ontario is expanding booster eligibility to all individuals 18+ starting Monday.
In addition, the interval will be shortened to three months after an individual’s second dose. https://t.co/qT04ipxtR0 pic.twitter.com/vmpp5j3P6C
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 16, 2021
International Travel Is Strongly Discouraged:
The federal government is again advising against all non-essential international travel in the face of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement yesterday following a meeting Tuesday night between premiers and the prime minister. Duclos says the highly transmissible variant is now spreading in Canadian communities and around the world. Ottawa has also agreed to send shipments of booster doses and rapid tests to provinces and territories to quickly ramp up vaccination campaigns.
If you’re planning to travel outside of Canada for the holidays, please, change your plans. Let’s be clear: with the emergence of the Omicron variant and its spread around the world, now is not the time for non-essential international travel.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 16, 2021
Some School Boards Preparing For A Return To Distance Learning:
Some school boards in Ontario are making preparations for the possibility of a return to remote learning in the new year due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Toronto District School Board sent a memo to parents yesterday asking that students take home personal belongings and devices from classrooms as well as any tools or supplies they might need to pivot to remote learning. Waterloo Region District School Board issued a similar memo, saying its staff have prepared schools to “ensure a smooth transition, if required”. The TDSB says in its memo that it hasn’t received any indication from the Ministry of Education that schools will close, but it wants to make sure it’s prepared.
Another 1,808 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario yesterday, along with nine deaths due to the virus. Daily cases have now been above one-thousand for a week. The province says 154 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, including 102 on ventilators. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 124 people in intensive care aren’t fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 30 patients are fully vaccinated.
In Ontario, 24,711,702 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.3% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.7% have two doses.
357 people are hospitalized with #COVID19. 273 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 84 are fully vaccinated.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 15, 2021
Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health says there were 99 new cases yesterday and 1 new death. It was a woman in her 70’s. Hospitalizations are down to 12 and there are 483 active cases.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed 34 new cases yesterday and no new deaths. There are 233 active cases with 6 people in hospital. Only 3 are in the ICU.
1️⃣ On the Overview tab, a new visual has been added showing the percentage of confirmed cases in Ontario that are caused by Omicron.
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 15, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot