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Arra: Too soon to be sounding alarm about Omicron – Toronto Star



GREY-BRUCE – Dr. Ian Arra, Grey-Bruce medical officer of health (MOH), said in an interview Tuesday, Nov. 30, that it’s too soon to be getting excited about the new Omicron variant that’s been hitting the headlines.

“We don’t have much information about it,” Arra said, noting that while the variant appears to have the potential for increased transmission and “vaccine escape,” it will take a couple of weeks to understand more about it. He added that even if the variant does prove to be more easily transmitted than other forms of the virus, and current vaccines are less effective in prevention, “we have a robust set of tools” to use against it.

The virus was fought quite effectively before vaccines were available, the MOH said. Measures such as mask-wearing and distancing worked before vaccines, and they work now.

“There is no benefit in getting excited,” he said, noting that just as a spike in the number of cases for two or three days cannot be viewed as a trend, neither can the presence of a new variant of the virus be seen as reason for alarm. “It is concerning but not a cause for panic,” he said.

While there have been some days recently where the number of new cases of COVID-19 was up, Arra said that Monday and Tuesday of this week saw only three new cases in the previous 24 hours. He does not consider it a trend unless a week goes by with increased numbers. He explained that because the number of people in Grey-Bruce is so low compared to other areas, even a small increase in numbers is important. “But is it significant?” he asked.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Arra said. “In Grey-Bruce, the numbers are as good as it gets for the fourth wave. There are no outbreaks in long-term care, in daycare, in workplaces.”

He added, “It is a privilege to work in an area where there is such a strong commitment… to reduce the risk for all of us.

“My advice is for people to be vigilant,” Arra said, especially during the holidays.

A person who is unvaccinated should invest 10 to 15 minutes a day for a few days to get informed (from valid sources, such as the public health unit’s website) about the vaccine and COVID-19, and make the decision on vaccination accordingly, for the protection of the person’s family and community.

During the holidays, anyone who is unvaccinated and visiting others would be advised to mask and distance.

Arra said the people of Grey-Bruce have “invested considerable effort” in taking precautions against COVID-19, and were able to enjoy Halloween “with no impact.” He expressed the sincere hope that the people of Grey-Bruce will be able to safely enjoy Christmas and the holidays.

Outbreak at school

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is working with Bluewater District School Board to address an outbreak of COVID-19 at Holland Chatsworth Central School.

There have been several instances of COVID in schools this fall. However, this is the first one to be considered an outbreak, meaning there is evidence of transmission within the school environment. Two confirmed cases have been identified.

Any involved bus routes are considered low-risk. Anyone at risk has been contacted and four cohorts identified as contacts are presently excluded from the school.

The MOH said that there are presently seven people at the school who have tested positive for COVID-19, but transmission in most cases has proved to have taken place outside the school, for example, between family members at home. The outbreak involves only the two cases.

The health unit states that this outbreak highlights the need for everyone who’s eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

That now includes children who turn five years old this year, and older. The health unit will be hosting vaccination clinics at arenas, community centres and schools (during non-school hours) on a regular basis. Some clinics are designed for children aged five to 11. These can be found on the health unit’s vaccine schedule. Appointments are needed for children in this age group; these cannot be booked through the health unit.

For children aged five to 11, COVID-19 vaccines should be booked through the provincial vaccination portal or by calling 1-833-943-3900. The COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 14 days before or after other vaccines. Second doses must be booked separately at least eight weeks after the first dose. People aged 12 and over do not need an appointment. In addition, primary care providers and pharmacies may be offering COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, eight new cases were reported. That was down to three new cases on Nov. 28. There are 47 active cases and 390 active high-risk contacts. Two people are hospitalized with COVID in Grey-Bruce.

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Truckers fighting government vaccine mandate march to Canadian capital



A convoy of truckers started their march from Vancouver on Sunday to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa protesting the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers, which the industry says would create driver shortages and fuel inflation.

Truckers under the banner Freedom Convoy 2022 had raised C$2.7 million ($2.2 million) by Sunday through a gofundme campaign to fight the mandate. The funds raised would be used to help with the costs of fuel, food and lodgings, the gofundme page said. The convoy is expected to reach Ottawa on Jan. 29.

The trucking industry is vital to ensure smooth flow of goods since more than two-thirds of the C$650 billion ($521 billion) in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States travels on roads.

But as many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers may be taken off the roads due to the mandate, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates.

The CTA, however, said in a statement on Saturday it does not support any protests on public road ways and the only way to cross the border on a commercial truck is by getting vaccinated.

Canada imposed the vaccine mandate for the trucking industry from Jan. 15, under which unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine themselves.

Driver shortages are further expected to fuel red-hot inflation which is running at a three-decade high, industry lobby groups gave said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted industry pressure to delay the mandate since it was first announced in November.

($1 = 1.2572 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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P.E.I. reports another COVID-19 death; 9 people in hospital –



P.E.I. has announced announced another death related to COVID-19, raising the province’s total to six.

The person was over age 80, according to a release from the Chief Public Health Office on Sunday. No further details were released about the death.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 increased to nine as of early Sunday. One person is in intensive care.

Four other people in hospital for other reasons have also tested positive for the virus.

The province has declared a new outbreak at the Summerset Manor long-term care facility in Summerside. 

There are currently six long-term care facilities, two community care facilities, 19 early learning and child-care centres and five other congregate settings with outbreaks:

  • Andrews of Park West.
  • Atlantic Baptist.
  • Beach Grove Home.
  • Clinton View Lodge.
  • Garden Home.
  • Summerset Manor.
  • Bevan Lodge.
  • Miscouche Villa.
  • Nineteen early learning and child-care centres. Five open, six closed and eight operating at reduced capacity.
  • Population that accesses shelter and outreach services in Charlottetown.
  • Prince County Correctional Centre.
  • Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility.
  • Provincial Correctional Centre.
  • St. Eleanor’s House.

There are 209 new cases and 214 recoveries in Sunday’s update. On average, 279 cases per day have been reported over the last week.

P.E.I. has 2,484 active cases and there have been 6,125 cases since the pandemic began.

Hundreds of vaccination appointments are still available this week, according to the release, including dedicated appointments for children.

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New Brunswick reports two additional deaths related to COVID-19 Sunday – CTV News Atlantic



Health officials in New Brunswick said Sunday that a person in their 80s in the Moncton region and a person in their 70s in the Bathurst region have died as a result of COVID-19.


In a news release Sunday, public health reported there are a total of 126 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province. Ten people are currently in intensive care.

Of those currently hospitalized, 74 were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19.

Of those in hospital, 101 are 60 or over, and six people are on a ventilator. Public health said Sunday that three people 19 and under are currently hospitalized.

The province said the rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated and those who are over six months from their second dose.


Officials are urging parents and guardians to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for their child’s first or second dose if they have not yet done so.

Children aged five to 11 who have already received their first dose of the vaccine are eligible to receive their second dose once eight weeks have passed since their first dose.

“Children are expected to return to in-person school by the end of the month and will benefit greatly from vaccination,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health in a news release Sunday.

“I’m calling on all parents with kids in this age group to book an appointment now for their child’s first dose if they are not yet vaccinated, or for their second dose if they are eligible.”


The New Brunswick government is encouraging those eligible for a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to book their appointment to help slow the spread of the virus.

Booster doses are available to everyone 18 and older, as long as five months have passed since their second dose.

To date, 62.3 per cent of the eligible population of people 50 and older have received their booster dose.

Appointments can be booked online at vaccination clinics offered through the Vitalité and Horizon health networks.

Many pharmacies across the province are also offering vaccine clinics. Appointments can be made by contacting a participating pharmacy directly.

Those unable to book an appointment online, or who otherwise need assistance booking through a health authority clinic or pharmacy, may call 1-833-437-1424.

Since Jan. 10, more than 44,000 appointments have been booked for booster doses of an mRNA vaccine.


New Brunswick is currently in Level 3 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that vaccinating more children against COVID-19 and ensuring more adults receive their booster dose over the next week will help New Brunswick return to Level 2 of the winter plan on Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

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