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Canada: COVID-19: Ontario reports 46 new deaths, hospitalizations rising; 585 new cases in Ottawa

Provinces announce new measures as Omicron fuels rise in COVID cases, hospitalization

  Provinces announce new measures as Omicron fuels rise in COVID cases, hospitalization Provinces are putting new measures in place to deal with an Omicron-fuelled rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, including delaying in-person schooling in Ontario by two weeks and bringing in the military to help Quebec speed up its third-dose vaccination program. Ontario joined a number of jurisdictions that already announced a postponed return to in-person learning, declaring the delay Monday along with a slew of new restrictions that puts the province back into a "modified Step 2" of pandemic recovery as of Wednesday. Premier Doug Ford said in a news conference that virtual learning will replace in-person classes until Jan. 17.

File: People queue in Ottawa to pick up COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits. © Provided by Ottawa Citizen File: People queue in Ottawa to pick up COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits.

There were 46 new COVID-19 deaths in the province on Tuesday, Public Health Ontario reported Wednesday morning.

This is a significant jump from the 21 deaths reported on Tuesday. Of the new deaths, 15 were LTC residents.

The province reported 9,783 new cases Wednesday. However, as of Dec. 31, Ontario restricted access to PCR tests to high-risk individuals who were symptomatic and/or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, front-line workers, residents in high-risk settings and other vulnerable populations. As a result, the true number of infections is higher than the daily new cases reported.

COVID-19: Vaccinations cancelled for children under five due to booking glitch; Ontario reports 11,352 new cases; 446 in Ottawa

  COVID-19: Vaccinations cancelled for children under five due to booking glitch; Ontario reports 11,352 new cases; 446 in Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday the next two to four weeks will be among the most difficult yet in the pandemic. “Our seniors, our kids, our small businesses, restaurants, our students and our families. But we don’t have a lot of options to avoid some difficult decisions.” Ottawa will be implementing new public health measures, Watson said, in line with Monday’s provincial announcement that Ontario will return to its phased “roadmap to reopening.” The city has “done its part remarkably well,” the mayor said, with 83 per cent of eligible residents (5-plus) now fully vaccinated and 90 per cent of those 12 and older fully vaccinated.

Of the health units in the Ottawa area, Ottawa Public Health reported 588 new cases; Eastern Ontario, which includes Cornwall and Hawkesbury, reported 115 cases; Kingston reported 106 cases, Renfrew reported 88 cases Leeds, Grenville and Lanark reported 22 cases. These numbers may change later in the day after health units report their own numbers.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott reported that 3,448 people in the province were hospitalized with COVID on Wednesday — 54 per cent of these patients admitted “for” COVID and 46 per cent admitted for other reasons, but tested positive.

There are a total of 505 people in ICU, with 486 of these testing positive. Of those in ICU, 265 are on a ventilator.

From now on, the province will be reporting hospitalization numbers in two categories, those with hospital “with” COVID and those who have been hospitalized “for” COVID.

A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada

  A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Quebec Premier François Legault says the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Quebec appears to have peaked, allowing him to lift the curfew on Monday that he imposed to protect hospitals from a record surge in infections. Health experts project that COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which were at an unprecedented 2,994 on Thursday, should peak in the coming days, Legault told reporters in Montreal. Legault introduced the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Dec. 31 — in time to ban people from the streets on New Year's Eve. He had imposed a curfew earlier in 2021 for almost five months, between January and May.

“While this doesn’t change the serious situation in Ontario’s hospitals, it is important to share this data to provide additional context on the state of the pandemic,” Elliott tweeted on Tuesday.

Elliott also reported that 159,000 doses of vaccine were administered on Tuesday, and 91.2 per cent of Ontario residents over the age of 12 have had one dose and 88.5 per cent have had two doses. So far, more than five million people have had a booster dose.

Latest COVID-19 news from Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health reported 585 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the COVID-19 case total to 51,313 since the pandemic began.

There were no new deaths reported and OPH is aware of 7,110 active cases of the virus.

There are 59 patients in hospital, with eight of them in ICU.

The health agency reported 13 new COVID-19 outbreaks in health-care and congregated living sites, for a total of 124 ongoing outbreak. There were no new outbreaks in schools or child care, with two outbreaks ongoing.

Federal modelling suggests 'very intense' Omicron surge within weeks

  Federal modelling suggests 'very intense' Omicron surge within weeks New modelling released today by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggests the highly transmissible Omicron variant will push hospital admissions to "extremely high levels" in the coming weeks as case counts reach levels never before seen in this country. While there is a lot of uncertainty about how many new infections are being reported each day due to ongoing COVID-19 testing constraints, PHAC said the current test positivity rate suggests the variant is running rampant and there will be "several weeks of very intense activity expected to come." Nationally, the positivity rate is a stunning 28 per cent.

In monitoring numbers of interest, OPH said the rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is 422.3, while the per cent positivity in testing is 32.0.

OPH has noted that new provincial regulations limiting testing to “at risk” people mean the actual number of cases and other statistics are under-reported.

Starting Wednesday, OPH is offering drop-in spots for first, second and booster vaccine doses for everyone eligible for their shot at community clinics while noting that walk-in spots aren’t guaranteed to be available and the best way to secure a shot is to book an appointment.

And, if Ottawans need emergency child care between now and the reopening of schools Monday, they can check a long list of professions set out by the province to see if they’re eligible for this free service and reach out to participating local providers to try to secure spaces.

Since Monday, emergency child care has been made available for front-line health-care workers in Ottawa. The province asked cities to prioritize this group, community and social services general manager Donna Gray reported to council in a Tuesday memo.

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The city is now opening up the offering to everyone on a provincial eligibility list, including pharmacy employees, first responders, military members, retirement and long-term care staff and people working in construction.

There’s a directory of approved emergency child care service providers on the city’s website, and to “streamline access to service” eligible families should directly contact these approved providers “for immediate placement,” according to Gray. Residents can also contact 311 or [email protected] for more information.

On Tuesday, 449 children of health-care workers were receiving emergency child care locally, Gray said.

“Based on reporting received today from child care service providers, some locations have limited availability while others have no additional spaces available,” she noted.

Latest COVID-19 news from Quebec

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he needs to see more details before taking a stance on Quebec’s plan to levy a financial penalty against people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Trudeau told a news conference he wants to see how the Quebec proposal balances people’s rights with the state’s goal of protecting them from the disease.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday he planned to make the unvaccinated pay a “significant” financial penalty. The premier contended the 10 per of the population who are unvaccinated occupy a disproportionate number of hospital beds and should be required to pay an additional contribution to the health-care system.

Quebec reports 3,300 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, 21 more deaths

  Quebec reports 3,300 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, 21 more deaths MONTREAL — Quebec is reporting yet another jump in COVID-19-related hospitalizations today, saying the figure climbed by 105 in the past 24 hours and now stands at 3,300. The provincial health department says 282 patients are currently in intensive care, an increase of seven from the previous day.

Trudeau says Quebec has reassured the federal government its plan won’t violate the principles of the Canada Health Act, which regulates the country’s provincially run universal health-care systems.

Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on Wednesday that appointments to receive a first dose of vaccine have jumped significantly over the past 48 hours.

Dubé posted on his Twitter account that 5,000 appointments for first doses were booked on Monday, while 7,000 were recorded Tuesday. The appointments were made in all age groups.

The increase in appointments was partly attributed to the province’s “health contribution” plan to help finance the extra strain put on the health care network by unvaccinated COVID-19 cases.

Quebec reported 52 more deaths linked to the pandemic on Wednesday and a rise of 135 COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

The Health Department says 2,877 people are in hospital with the disease, after 457 people were admitted in the past 24 hours and 322 people were discharged.

It says 263 people are in intensive care, a rise of eight from the day before.

Officials are reporting 8,351 new COVID-19 cases today, based on more than 38,300 tests, about 17 per cent of which came back positive.

COVID-19 news nationally

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Canada is in crisis when it comes to COVID-19 PCR test capacity, as the federal government struggles to make good on its promise to deliver 140 million rapid tests to provinces by the end of the month.

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Duclos says access to PCR tests in provinces is a crisis, and that’s why at-home rapid tests will be such an important tool to combat the Omicron wave of COVID-19.

But some provinces have flagged that shipments of those rapid antigen tests tests from the federal government have been slow to arrive.

In Ontario for example, fewer than 0.3 per cent of the rapid tests committed to the province earlier this month have been delivered so far and there is no delivery scheduled for about 80 per cent of the promised tests.

Federal Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi says the provinces’ demand for the tests has increased drastically since last year while the market has become very competitive.

She says the government is working with 14 suppliers to secure the tests that were promised by the end of the month.

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The Canadian Armed Forces says its medical personnel are being stretched to the limit during the pandemic, suggesting it has little to offer provincial health care systems overwhelmed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

A growing number of provinces are being forced to resort to extreme measures to ensure they have enough nurses and doctors to care for patients as the number of severe cases of COVID-19 continues to climb.

The military has stepped up to help provinces in the past, with about 200 non-medical personnel currently supporting vaccination efforts in Quebec by filling various administrative and logistical roles.

Yet the Armed Forces could be hard-pressed to deploy trained medical personnel as Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says it currently has only half the required number of doctors to meet its own requirements.

Le Bouthillier says the military also has only 75 per cent of the nurses and 65 per cent of the medical technicians needed to provide health care to Canadian Armed Forces members at home and overseas, which is their primary job.

The military is supposed to have a total of 2,500 medical personnel, of which around 460 are doctors and nurses.

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-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press

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