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Act like Omicron 'already here,' says MOH – Brantford Expositor

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The Omicron COVID-19 variant has yet to be confirmed locally but “we expect that to change very soon,” says Brant’s acting medical officer of health.

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“We need to be acting like Omicron is already here,” Dr. Rebecca Comley said Tuesday during her weekly media briefing.

“We’re trying to say right on top of it and be very nimble in terms of our recommendations, as well as keeping in mind the province’s recommendations as we make our own.”

He noted that the Ontario Science Table estimated on Monday that more than 30 per cent of new COVID cases are Omicron and the number is growing rapidly.

That means, she suggested, more protocols are likely to be announced before Christmas about social gatherings and event capacity.

“I expect we’ll announce something in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, Comley said her best advice is for anyone eligible for a third dose of vaccine to book it as soon as possible.

The Brant County Health Unit recorded 111 new COVID cases for the week ended Dec. 12. That’s up from 95 for the week ended Dec. 5 and is the highest weekly case count since 163 for the week ended May 16.

Comley hinted that there may be more than the 30 COVID deaths in Brantford and Brant County that have so far been reported.

Asked about two deaths added to the local count by Ontario on Sunday, Comley said: “We don’t update our count until we see the death certificate and we haven’t seen that. I can’t confirm that.”

On Tuesday, the health unit reported eight new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. That’s down from a daily average of 16 cases last week.

Active cases decreased to 74 on Tuesday from 85 on Monday.

The Brant Community Healthcare System reported five COVID patients in hospital receiving care, with two in critical care. The health unit reported six COVID patients in care with the difference due to the timing of reporting.

A week ago, there were two people with the virus in hospital.

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“An increase in hospitalization is always concerning, especially in a setting of increased cases and the Omicron variant,” Comley said.

The health unit seeing an increase in cases linked to social gatherings.

“We need residents to be more mindful than ever when it comes to their social interactions,” said Comley.

“It is imperative that we do all we can to reduce opportunities for transmission. I know this is a big ask for those in our community. We have all sacrificed so much over the past two years. That said, this virus is not just going to vanish because we are tired of it. We once again need the collective effort of our community to get through this wave.”

While Omicron is reportedly less severe than the Delta variant, Comley noted it’s too early to know if that’s definitive. Even if the variant is relatively mild, the “sheer numbers that could potentially occur” could easily strain the health-care system, even is a small percentage of cases actually need hospitalization, she said.

“The best defence against the Omicron variant remains the vaccines we currently have in use.”

The doctor noted that early reports indicate third doses give good protection against COVID infection and offer significant protection against severe health outcomes.

“I strongly encourage anyone eligible for a third dose to book it as soon as possible.”

The health unit is currently expanding its vaccine capacity with more than 3,300 new appointment bookings added to existing ones before the end of the year.

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“We’re operating at maximum capacity to ensure eligible residents are protected as soon as they can be,” said Comley.

As of Sunday, 86 per cent of Brantford-Brant residents, aged 12 and older, have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 83 per cent have completed a two-dose series.

Walk-in appointments are accepted for all those, 12 and older, getting first and second doses. Those getting a booster must book an appointment using the booking portal on the health unit website (www.bchu.org).

Health unit CEO Jo Ann Tober, who oversees the vaccine rollout, said “negative reactions or any significant events” are not being seen particularly with third doses.

With two current outbreaks associated with churches – New City Church in Brantford with six cases and Paris Presbyterian Church in Paris with three cases, Comley said all worship groups should be careful about following provincial guidelines for gatherings. She hinted there may be further recommendations to come in a few days.

She noted that three outbreaks at local schools that have been going on for three weeks or more are because transmission is often between other classes, households and overlapping social or church groups.

“We’re often seeing a cluster of cases, then a break, and then another cluster of cases. It’s hard to isolate the source of each group in isolation.”

The doctor also said the health unit has been monitoring local sports practices and games through the fall. So far, there have been COVID cases but no outbreaks in sports settings, she said.

“We’re constantly watching and looking at what kind of limits we need to put in place.”

SGamble@postmedia.com

@EXPSGamble

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Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia has reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care.

A news release from the province Sunday said the patients are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.

The average age of the patients admitted for COVID-19 is 65, the release states. The majority of the patients, 65, were admitted during the Omicron wave. 

There are also two other groups currently in hospital related to the virus, according to the release.

  • 60 people who were identified as positive upon arrival but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
  • 112 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

The abbreviated release did not provide the number of COVID-19 admissions and discharges. 

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,711 tests on Saturday and 696 new cases have been reported.

There are 447 cases in the central health zone, 108 in the eastern zone, 105 in the western zone and 36 in the northern zone.

Less than than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated, according to provincial statistics.

As of Friday’s update, unvaccinated Nova Scotians were about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalizations by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Summary offence tickets

Halifax Regional Police issued 11 summary offence tickets Sunday for violations of health regulations.

Police responded to reports of a party at a Bayers Road residence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets were issued to 11 occupants for failing to comply with provisions of the Health Protection Act. 

The tickets carry a fine of $2,422.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one death and 384 new cases Sunday. There are 5,503 active cases and 12 hospitalizations. 
  • Prince Edward Island reported five hospitalizations Saturday. There were 309 new cases and 222 recoveries in Saturday’s report.
  • New Brunswick reported four more deaths and 115 hospitalizations Sunday. The province has 5,265 active cases.
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UK’s Johnson plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law – The Telegraph

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The United Kingdom is drawing up plans under which people will not be legally bound to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to permanently revoke emergency coronavirus laws as Britain’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall, the report said, adding official guidance would remain but would not result in fines or legal punishment if ignored.

The plans will be worked up over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected as early as the spring, the report said.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said COVID-19 self-isolation in England will be cut to five days from seven if someone tests negative twice.

Johnson is also set to lift Plan B COVID-19 restrictions, introduced last month to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, according to an earlier Telegraph report.

 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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'Choose increased antibodies over brand': Moderna appointments still being cancelled in London, Ont. area – CTV News London

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Doctors and pharmacists continue to advocate for people to get the first available mRNA vaccine for their COVID-19 booster dose.

“We have had some feedback that appointments are being canceled because people are holding out for Pfizer,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

“I strongly strongly urge everyone, particularly those over the age of 50, to choose increased antibodies over brand,” she added.

Lock made those statements during her weekly briefing on Jan 12.

“Our immunity following our original two doses is decreasing over time,” says Lock. “Our bodies don’t care what brand they receive. They follow the science, not the manufacturer. Studies show that immunity shoots back up after the booster and it doesn’t matter which brand.”

This week, First Ave. Pharmacy in St. Thomas, Ont. took to Facebook saying it had openings due to people refusing Moderna as a booster dose.“We send out a mass email saying that there’s a shortage of Pfizer and we might have to offer them Moderna and some people would cancel their appointment online or they would call us and cancel their appointments,” says Minh Nguyen, pharmacist at First Ave. Pharmacy. “Both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines and equally effective at preventing severe illness from COVID. So I would say get whatever mRNA vaccine you can.”

Sunday, the Metrolinx Go-VAXX bus returned to London, Ont. It was stationed in the parking lot at the new East Lions Community Centre on Brydges St.

They had some appointments booked, but we were even taking walk-ins with Pfizer being administered.

“I’ve had Pfizer for my first two shots and that’s what I preferred,” says Michael Sean MacVoy, a truck driver getting his booster. “At this point, I didn’t care.”

Diane Crozman was in the same scenario, getting Pfizer a third time. “It doesn’t really make a difference to me,” she said. “They said the Moderna is going to work the same, but Pfizer that’s good because I’ve already got the other two Pfizer.”

Justin Seaward showed up for a walk-in booster, minutes after his wife went home from her booked appointment.

“I’ve had Pfizer, Moderna, then Pfizer now,” says Seaward. “It didn’t really make a difference much to me. I just wanted to be Vaxxed so I can feel safer for my family.”The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) had administered 2,194 doses of vaccine over the past six days since starting pop-up clinics in Middlesex County.

The percentage of people upset that Moderna was being administered is very low.

“It has happened a few times at the front door, but very rare,” says Miranda Bothwell, acting superintendent for special operations with MLPS.

They will be back on the road, continuing their pop-up clinic tour Monday in Lucan, Ont. 

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