Germany will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the fast-spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Sunday.
“We do not know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron,” Lauterbach said on public broadcasting channel ARD, adding the results of the assessment would become available within the next few weeks.
It was clear, however, that “the alternative not to test at all … would be far too dangerous,” said Lauterbach, a scientist and physician.
Earlier, he had told a Sunday newspaper that Germany must revamp its COVID-19 vaccination strategy to tackle the Omicron variant and to ensure it can develop a new vaccine rapidly if it faces a more deadly coronavirus variant in the future. New measures for dining out and bar visits were brought in only last Friday.
Omicron now accounts for 44% of coronavirus infections in Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease said.
On Sunday, RKI registered 36,552 newly reported corona infections within 24 hours, three times the number a week earlier.
The Bundestag lower house of parliament will soon discuss a draft bill for a general vaccination mandate that is supported by businesses and the public sector, but has been delayed amid uncertainty about united support for it within the three-party coalition government.
Lauterbach, of the Social Democratic Party, strongly advocates obligatory vaccinations and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the libertarian FDP in an interview with Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag also urged parliament to decide on the issue soon.
However, the parliamentary leader of the Green Party, Britta Hasselmann said in an interview with the Funke media group that the parties had to discuss the issue internally first.
“It is not an easy decision, it implies a deep intervention,” she said.
(Reporting by Alexander Ratz and Vera Eckert, editing by Susan Fenton)
Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 – CBC.ca
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.
UK’s Johnson plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law – The Telegraph
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)
'Choose increased antibodies over brand': Moderna appointments still being cancelled in London, Ont. area – CTV News London
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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