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Omicron ‘almost guaranteed’ to be in area – health unit – The North Bay Nugget

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Although there have been no confirmed cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 confirmed in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit region, “it’s almost guaranteed it is in the area.

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Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, public health physician with the health unit, said Thursday that while the health unit is “managing some cases” of the omicron variant from outside the region, it is safe to assume the highly infectious virus is here.

Speaking at a news conference hosted by the health unit, Zimbalatti said it is “imperative that we act now” to fight the variant.

The omicron variant, the latest named variant of the coronavirus, is “eight times more infectious than delta,” medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico said.

“Once again we are at a pivotal point in the pandemic” because of omicron, he said. “Urgent action is needed now.”

The pandemic, he said, is “changing at an alarming rate,” with the number of positive tests for COVID-19 almost doubling in just the past week. Omicron, he said, is expected to make up close to 100 per cent of new cases in the province by the end of the month.

That, he said, will place the provincial health-care system “in jeopardy with the increase in omicron cases across the province, even if omicron does prove to cause more mild disease than delta.”

Chirico admits there is still “very limited evidence on the severity of illness it could cause,” but the province has increased testing protocols in long-term care and retirement homes and has set new limits on attendance at indoor venues such as arenas.

The province announced 2,421 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday.

Chirico also noted that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are “less effective at preventing omicron,” but a third dose has proven “much stronger” in preventing infection.

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“A third dose is as effective against omicron as two doses are against the other strains,” he said.

He also noted that case counts are increasing in the local region, with some of those cases expected to be the omicron variant.

Over the last seven days until Thursday morning, 32 cases had been reported in the health unit region, an increase of 113 per cent since Nov. 30, including individuals testing positive in connection with omicron outbreaks in other parts of the province.

“Cases are spreading rapidly and, at this time, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are remaining steady, but usually we don’t see increases in hospital admissions for a week or two after cases increase,” Chirico said in a release issued following the news conference.

“We are at a point where making smart decisions can help decrease the spread; including being fully vaccinated, getting your third dose when you are eligible, limiting the number of people you gather with and staying home if you feel unwell.”

Chirico noted the health unit has opened up a number of vaccine appointments over the next two weeks for eligible individuals to receive a third dose to help protect themselves against omicron.

He also urged anyone planning to travel over the holiday season to weigh the risks.

“You have to do an individual risk assessment,” he said.

Since the vaccines became available to the five- to 11-year age group late last month, about 27 per cent of that age group have received a first dose of the vaccine, slightly below the provincial average of 32 per cent, according to Shannon Mantha, executive director of clinical services and chief nursing officer with the health unit.

Mantha said that “due to the emerging situation,” particularly with regard to the omicron variant, the health unit has made 14,000 appointments available over the next two weeks.

Those appointments, she said, are “filling quickly.”

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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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