Rapid Tests And New PPE Part Of The Back-to-School Plan – Full COVID-19 Update

Rapid Tests And New PPE Part Of The Back-to-School Plan – Full COVID-19 Update

There are more details about what Ontario’s reopened classrooms will look like in the Omicron era. Education Minister Stephen Lecce provided an update yesterday, ahead of Monday’s return to school. Testing is no longer available to all, so the province will send two rapid antigen tests home with each student, and P-C-R tests will be given to kids who develop COVID-19 symptoms at school. Schools will now have to report daily data on staff absences to local public health units to monitor disruptions in schools. Public health units will notify families if 30 per cent of the school – including staff and students – is absent for any reason. And principals have to report daily absences to the Education Ministry, regardless of the percentage of absenteeism. That information will be shared as part of the province’s COVID-19 data online.

Ontario not Considering A Vax Tax:

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says the province will not follow Quebec in imposing a financial penalty on adults who don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19. Dr. Kieran Moore says the measure announced by Premier Francois Legault seems punitive. He says Ontario has only mandated vaccinations in long-term care facilities which are at highest risk of COVID-19. Moore says that the provincial government has not entertained putting a penalty on residents who are unvaccinated and he and his team will not be making such a recommendation.

Feds Back Down On Truck Driver Vaccine Mandate:

Three days before it was to take effect, the federal government is backing up on its COVID vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers. Ottawa announced in November that all truck drivers crossing into Canada would need to be fully vaccinated by this Saturday. But a Canada Border Services Agency official told The Canadian Press last night Canadian big-riggers will not have to quarantine if they’re unvaccinated or have received only one dose. Trade associations in both countries had pushed to delay the mandate, fearing additional strain on supply chains amid a surge in infections and worker shortages. The new rule will still take effect for American truckers, who’ll be turned away at the border starting this weekend if they haven’t been inoculated.

Trudeau Avoids Answering Questions About Quebec’s Tax Tax:

The federal government is being careful about jumping on Quebec’s idea to tax adults who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the key is not to be malicious. He says the language and action need to be there to protect people and that no one is talking about forcibly vaccinating people in Canada. Like Prime Minister Trudeau, Duclos is waiting for more details on Quebec’s plan.

Health Minister Suggests The Therapeutics Are Coming Soon:

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Health Canada should have an announcement very soon on the approval of anti-viral treatments for COVID-19. He says at the same time, he’s been talking with the provinces and territories about how they will be rolled out. Canada has signed up for an initial one-million courses of anti-viral treatment from Pfizer and has also purchased 500,000 courses of Merck’s oral anti-viral treatment. The treatments are given only after someone is showing symptoms of COVID-19, with the aim of keeping the illness as mild as possible to avoid hospitalization.

Shelters Under Intense Pressure:

Women’s shelter workers are feeling more pressure as the latest COVID-19 wave hits Canada. Erin Griver is the director of women’s services at Mission Services of Hamilton. She says the workload has been hard for everybody. Griver says their women’s shelters have seen outbreaks and staff testing positive throughout the pandemic. But she says the current rates of infection moving through their sites are worse due to the Omicron variant.

Manitoba Gives Up On Containment:

Manitoba health officials say the Omicron variant is spreading so rapidly that they are no longer looking to contain the spread. Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer, says it doesn’t mean they are giving up. But he says they must shift to learning to mitigate risk at a community level. COVID-related hospital cases climbed by 36 yesterday to 454. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is 46.

Saskatchewan Says No New Restrictions:

Saskatchewan is extending its public health order until the end of February but won’t impose more COVID-19 measures. Premier Scott Moe says lockdowns infringe on the rights and freedoms of people and don’t reduce transmission in cases during the Omicron wave. He says it’s important to protect family livelihoods. The province is expecting cases to rise in the coming weeks and it has a surge plan in place should hospitalizations rise as well. 

America Struggling To Implement Mask Mandates:

Officials across the US are again weighing how and whether to impose mask mandates as COVID-19 infections soar and the American public grows weary. Much of the debate centres around the nation’s schools, some of which closed due to infection-related staffing issues. Yet in a variety of places, mask mandates are being lifted or voted down. It’s reported the US government has a stockpile of more than 750-million N95 masks.

Could Cannabis Prevent COVID?

Could the key to beating COVID-19 be marijuana?  Researchers from Oregon State University find certain hemp compounds can prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells.  The study finds that a pair of cannabinoid acids in cannabis sativa (hemp) bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, consequently preventing a critical step in the COVID-19 infection process. More specifically, those two compounds are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). The spike protein that those two cannabinoid acids bind to is the very same viral destination COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapies target.

Zoo Leopard In Illinois Dies Of COVID-19:

A snow leopard at an Illinois zoo has died after contracting COVID.  A resident of the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, 11-year-old Rilu recently died “after struggling with COVID-induced pneumonia,” the park shared on social media alongside a set of pics.  Rilu’s personality and beauty will be missed by guests and staff, but he will not be forgotten,” the caption on their post said, going on to remind visitors that “masks are required at all indoor spaces at Miller Park Zoo.”

New Rules For Cruise Ships:

Cruise lines no longer have to follow COVID guidance on ships as outlined by the CDC.  The CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which was extended and modified in October, will expire Saturday at which point the health agency’s COVID guidance for cruise ships will become voluntary.  This means cruise lines can choose whether to follow the health agency’s guidance or not.

Multiple Outbreaks In China:

Just weeks before the Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in a half-dozen cities, with the one closest to Beijing driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. With the success of the Games at stake, Beijing is doubling-down on its zero-COVID policy by imposing sometimes draconian restrictions to snuff out new cases. Across China, more than 20-million people are living under some form of lockdown, many prevented from leaving their homes at all. To safeguard the Beijing Games, China is implementing an even stricter bubble than Tokyo did for the Summer Games in July.

Ontario Numbers:

There are 3,448 people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals right now, 505 of them in intensive care. The province reported 46 new deaths yesterday. 82 per cent of Ontarians aged five and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 87 per cent have at least one dose.

Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health says there were no new deaths yesterday and hospitalizations decreased by 8. There are now 99 COVID-19 patients in hospital. Only 14 of them are in hospital. 

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is still reporting 30 hospitalized COVID patients. Only 3 of them are in the ICU. 

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot

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