Some Toronto Hospital Pausing Non-Essential Surgeries Again – Full COVID-19 Update

Some Toronto Hospital Pausing Non-Essential Surgeries Again – Full COVID-19 Update

A major Toronto hospital network is pausing non-essential surgeries and ambulatory care due to surge in COVID-19 cases. Unity Health CEO Tim Rutledge says they need to focus all efforts and people on caring for patients and clearing capacity to meet the demands of the pandemic. There were 165 people in intensive care due to COVID-19 right now, including 101 patients on ventilators across the province. Ontario’s science table predicts cases will continue to rise over the next month, with a spike in hospitalizations to follow.

Government Cracking Down On Those Selling Rapid Tests For Profit:

Those who resell rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits may be fined for doing so. Government and Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano says reselling the kits is considered a breach of government emergency orders that prohibit charging unfair prices for necessary goods. Romano says 900 egregious complaints about rapid test resales have been referred to police forces. He says the government is working to identify and track down businesses or individuals who break the rules.

Biden Announces America’s Plan for Omicron:

Fighting the omicron variant surging through the country, President Joe Biden says the government will provide 500 million free rapid home-testing kits, increase support for hospitals under strain, and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts. Speaking at the White House yesterday, Biden detailed major changes to his COVID-19 winter plan, his hand forced by the fast-spreading variant, whose properties aren’t yet fully understood by scientists. In his comments, he suggested the winter holidays could be close to normal for the vaccinated, but dangerous for the unvaccinated. He told those who have resisted getting their shots that being vaccinated “is the only responsible thing to do.”

New York Commits To No New Lockdowns:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s committed to keeping the city open as it grapples with yet another spike in coronavirus cases. The Democratic mayor says New York can’t see schools and businesses closed again like the city did in 2020 when COVID-19 first spread widely. De Blasio has faced questions over the past week about whether he would call for closures as a wave of new cases fuelled by the Omicron variant has broken over the city.

New Calls For Supports For Businesses:

Two of Canada’s largest business groups are calling on provincial governments to provide financial support for restaurants, retailers and small businesses grappling with renewed public health restrictions. In an open letter to premiers, Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business note that many provinces have introduced a fresh round of restrictions on top of existing measures. But many businesses still don’t qualify for federal government support as their operations aren’t fully locked down. The business groups are asking premiers to announce a new round of provincial grants and to pressure the federal government into bringing back wage and rent subsidies.

Visiting Rules Are Changing In Some Hospitals:

In light of the Omicron variant, some hospitals in Ontario are updating their visitor policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Effective immediately, Unity Health Toronto, including St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Healthcare, says each inpatient who has a stay fewer than seven days will not be allowed any visitors. The University Health Network announced similar changes, with no visitors allowed for patients in hospital for less than seven days. Meanwhile, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre says those receiving inpatient care are now allowed only one fully vaccinated designated visitor each day during regular visiting hours, with some exceptions.

Some Vaccine Recipients May Have Received The Wrong Shot:

Officials with the Southwestern Public Health unit say some people who thought they were receiving a COVID-19 vaccine may have been given saline solution. They say it was a matter of human error and happened at a mass vaccination site in St. Thomas on November 30th. The officials say up to six people may have been given the mixture of water and salt instead of vaccine and stress that saline poses no risk to humans. The officials are trying to identify and contact the affected individuals. 

Niagara Scaling Back Contact Tracing:

Niagara Region Public Health says it is scaling back COVID-19 contact tracing as it works to expand its booster dose campaign. The region says in a release that following up with every case and their contacts to isolate them has been a cornerstone of controlling the pandemic for the past 21 months. But it says the Omicron variant poses a new and very different threat. The region says it is beginning to shift resources instead to deliver booster doses which can better blunt the severity of the Omicron wave.

Quebec & BC Impose New Restrictions:

Tougher public health restrictions continue to be announced in many provinces as they deal with a troubling rise in COVID-19 cases. Quebec announced more than 5,000 new infections on Tuesday — another single-day pandemic record. Montreal’s COVID-infected mayor reintroduced a state of emergency to free up resources as active infections soared to over eight-thousand in her city. Quebec’s public security minister has also asked Ottawa for military help to accelerate the province’s mass vaccination campaign. Daily case counts were also broken Tuesday in Nova Scotia with 522, and in British Columbia with more than 1,300. BC is bringing in tighter restrictions and capacity limits, closing nightclubs, fitness centres and dance studios, and is preparing to postpone surgeries in the new year. 

Alberta Imposes New Restrictions:

Alberta is expanding vaccine booster eligibility to all adults, buying more COVID-19 rapid tests, and imposing new capacity limits in a battle against the Omicron variant. The changes include half-capacity attendance, mandatory masking and a ban on eating and drinking while seated in any large venue that seats more than 1,000 people. The new rules take effect Friday — just in time for the world junior hockey championship, set to begin Sunday in Edmonton and Red Deer. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says there were over 16-hundred Omicron cases in the province on Tuesday, nearly 600 more than the day before.

The Shaw Festival Cancels Performances:

The Shaw Festival says it’s shuttering its production of A Christmas Carol after a company member tested positive for COVID-19. Organizers of the festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, tweeted that remaining performances of the Christmas classic until Thursday have been cancelled. Executive director Tim Jennings says cast members are isolating until they are cleared by public health. They’re considered to be at higher risk because they normally don’t wear masks while performing.

Ontario Numbers:

Ontario reported 3,453 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 11 new deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 165 people in intensive care due to the virus, including 101 on ventilators. Ontario’s test positivity rate has climbed over 9%.

Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:

172 new cases were reported yesterday by Waterloo Region Public Health. There were no new deaths. Active cases are up to 883 and there are still 20 people hospitalized. 6 of them are in the ICU. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Announced 30 new cases yesterday. There are now 9 people hospitalized with 533 active cases. 

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Unity Health Network via Twitter


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