Provinces are putting new measures in place to deal with an Omicron-fueled increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Canada.
Ontario has joined a number of jurisdictions that have already announced a delayed return to in-person classroom learning, declaring the delay on Monday, along with a host of new restrictions that put the province back into a “modified stage 2” of the resumption in the event of a pandemic.
Premier Doug Ford told a press conference Monday that virtual learning will replace face-to-face classes until January 17. The news came back to an announcement made last week that in-person classes would resume this Wednesday.
Ontario said 1,232 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, including 248 patients in intensive care units, bringing the seven-day average to 210.
The province has also reported 13,578 new cases of COVID-19, although experts have said the restricted eligibility for PCR testing announced by Ontario last week means that number is likely much higher.
During this time, Newfoundland and Labrador will drop to a modified alert level 4 as the province reported 519 new cases on Monday – setting a new single-day record for the seventh day in a row.
Under the amended Alert Level 4, which goes into effect at midnight and will be reassessed Jan. 17, informal gatherings are limited to 10 people, which Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald called “10 tight.” “. She said the goal of reducing the number of contacts a person has is to limit the spread of the virus.
Funerals, weddings, funerals and religious gatherings are limited to 50 people or 25% of capacity, whichever is less. Businesses – including gyms, dance studios, and arenas – will follow the same rules.
Retail stores, including in malls, can remain open at reduced capacity, while restaurants can remain open at 50% capacity, as long as the distance between tables can be maintained. Tables are limited to six people and buffets are prohibited.
What’s happening across Canada
With testing capacity under strain, experts say the actual number of cases is likely much higher than reported. Regional hospitalization data is also changing, with several provinces saying they will start reporting more precise data that separate the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 from those hospitalized for another medical condition that also prove positive. for COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE
In British Columbia, Pacific Coastal Airlines – an operator that serves small communities on the west coast and interior of the province – has suspended operations for two days due to Omicron cases in its operational control center at the south terminal of the airport Vancouver International.
Courts in British Columbia have postponed all face-to-face trials and other proceedings over the coming week as they work with public health officials to update their COVID-19 safety policy.
In the Prairies, Albertathe isolation period for COVID-19 cases was reduced from 10 days to five days on Monday, while some nursing homes in Manitoba said they were facing “the most difficult time yet” amid epidemics and staff shortages. Manitoba reported 1,711 new cases Monday – another record – and six more deaths.
In Saskatchewan, schools are set to reopen Monday and Tuesday, despite concerns from parents and educators about Omicron’s safety.
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said Monday that members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to Quebec to speed up vaccination efforts. Quebec’s recall program is expected to extend to people 18 and over on Tuesday.
About 200 military personnel will participate, but only a few are medical personnel. The vast majority will contribute to the planning and logistical tasks linked to the vaccination campaign, such as welcoming people to vaccination centers and disinfecting surfaces. The Canadian Armed Forces have said they will focus on the Montreal area for the time being.
In the Atlantic region, New Scotland reported 1,020 new infections on Monday. The province has opened up eligibility for a third recall to anyone aged 30 and over. Dr Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer, said he was cautiously encouraged by Nova Scotia’s low hospitalization rate, but warned things could change quickly.
“Right now we can’t justify a tighter lockdown, but neither can we justify opening the doors wide,” Strang said, adding that Nova Scotians could “accept a reasonable degree of spread.” in order to continue to see small groups of family and friends and go to school.
New Brunswick reported 2,548 new infections on Monday, which encompasses the weekend’s case count and reflects three record days. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said teams have “worked diligently” to put in place a plan to protect the health system as more than 500 employees are on sick leave and isolated due to COVID- 19.
Prince Edward Island reported 161 new cases on Monday. Health PEI made recommendations for all islanders who test positive for the virus using a rapid test, with the first directive being to self-isolate.
In the north, Nunavut reported 16 new cases on Monday, while in the Northwest Territories, all territorial court proceedings were delayed until mid-February after an increase in COVID-19 cases. yukonese reported 158 new cases on Monday.
What is happening in the world
As of Monday afternoon, around 291.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. The death toll worldwide stood at more than 5.4 million.
In Europe, the Italian government has priced the more protective Ffp2 masks at 0.75 euro cents (CA $ 1.08) each now that they are required to access public transport, museums, cinemas and many other indoor activities.
A senior Portuguese health official said nearly 90% of COVID-19 patients in intensive care had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In the Asia Pacific region, South Korea said it had confirmed its first death from the Omicron variant.
India said it vaccinated more than 3.8 million adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 on Monday, as the country expanded its vaccination efforts to protect its large population of adolescents before a looming wave of coronavirus infections .
Australia said Omicron’s more moderate impact meant the country could move forward with plans to reopen the economy, even as new infections hit a record high of over 37,000 and the number of people hospitalized was increasing.
In the Americas, senior federal health officials in the United States are seeking to add a negative test as well as its five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus, the White House’s senior medical adviser said on Sunday.
Dr Anthony Fauci said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering including the negative test as part of its guidance after receiving a significant “pushback” on its updated recommendations last week.
Meanwhile, some school systems in the United States have extended their Monday vacation or returned to online education due to the explosion in COVID-19 cases, while others have continued with in-person classes. .
New York City, home to the nation’s largest school system, has reopened classrooms to around 1 million students with a supply of COVID-19 test kits to take home and plans to double the number of random tests carried out in schools.
On Monday, the United States extended COVID-19 boosters as it grapples with the wave of Omicron, the Food and Drug Administration allowing Pfizer-BioNTech booster injections for children as young as 12.
In Africa, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is in compulsory self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 in routine testing.
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and his wife, Isaura, have also tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation, the president’s office said on Monday.
In the Middle East, Israel on Monday announced it would admit foreigners suspected of being immune to COVID-19 from countries deemed to be at medium risk next week, partially rescinding a ban imposed in late November in response to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, the country has extended its second recall campaign to people over 60.