Canada’s chief public health officer said today there is evidence of community spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant and new COVID-19 cases are expected to “rapidly escalate” in the coming days.
Dr. Theresa Tam said there is “great spread potential” with omicron and the situation in Canada is a “few days or maybe a week” behind the U.K. — where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said that the country is dealing with a “tidal wave” of new infections, with the caseload doubling every two or three days as the variant takes hold.
“We know how to work together to flatten that curve and we need to do that pretty rapidly, starting now,” Tam said. “As with other waves of the pandemic, rapid action and reducing contact [are] key to preventing that very sharp peak.”
In Ontario, COVID-19 cases have doubled in two weeks’ time, with 1,328 new cases reported today. Some communities — notably Kingston, Ont. — have seen conditions rapidly deteriorate with hundreds of new cases posted over the weekend, pushing case counts to the highest level seen since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
‘We are seeing community transmission’
The Ontario COVID-19 science advisory table said today the omicron variant will replace the currently dominant delta variant as the main strain in the province by Christmas — something Tam said she expects to see happen elsewhere in the country by year’s end. Early data suggest omicron is three times more transmissible than delta.
“What we’re seeing in Ontario, I expect to be seen in other areas of the country,” Tam told a press conference. “We are seeing community transmission, possibly in its early stages, but this can rapidly escalate in the days to come.”
While Canada could soon be facing the largest wave of COVID-19 cases ever recorded during this health crisis, one big unknown is just how virulent the omicron variant is compared to past variants like alpha or delta.
WATCH: Tam says there is community transmission of the omicron variant in Canada
The U.K. has reported a stunning 54,661 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, but only 10 people with the omicron variant have so far been hospitalized in England.
While researchers scramble to determine the severity of this variant, Tam said provinces must urgently roll out booster shots to protect older and vulnerable Canadians.
She said there’s evidence of “waning immunity” from COVID-19 infections and vaccines — and quickly administering a third shot to as many people as possible can help blunt the spread.
Tam also said it will take time for the booster shots to kick in — so Canadians should closely follow public health guidelines and “layer on protections” such as medical-grade masks until more people are covered with a third shot.
“We’ve achieved high vaccination coverage compared to other countries and here we are again asking people to roll up their sleeves for those booster shots — especially for the higher risk populations. That’s what we need to focus on,” Tam said.
“But you need both vaccines and reduced contact rates right to dampen the effect of this virus,” she said.
Tam said that last recommendation — staying away from other people — will help protect Canada’s hospitals from being inundated with patients.
“I think we’ve learned over time, if we don’t act fast then you begin to lose the ability to manage things,” she said.
Tam’s omicron warnings come on the same day she released her annual report. In that document, Tam says the public health system is “stretched dangerously thin” after two years of the COVID-19 crisis and a parallel opioid epidemic.
To address some of the system’s shortcomings, Tam said governments have to earmark more money for public health to bring an end to what she calls the “boom and bust” cycle — a funding pattern where money flows during a time of crisis only to be clawed back when the situation stabilizes. Tam said money should be dedicated to recruiting and retaining health care workers, who have faced challenging working conditions during this pandemic.
Tam’s annual report also lays bare just how damaging the COVID-19 crisis has been for other areas of public health. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the lives of Canadians suffering from mental illness, opioid addiction and other substance abuse problems.
Tam’s report says there were 7,150 more deaths than expected in people under the age of 65 between March 2020 and May 2021. COVID-19-related deaths accounted for 1,600 of those deaths, while the worsening opioid overdose crisis also likely caused a significant number of these excess deaths, Tam said.
Social isolation, a more toxic drug supply and physical distancing measures at safe-consumption sites, among other factors, have made the opioid crisis more deadly, the report found. The number of opioid-related deaths in 2020 (6,214) far exceeded the number of deaths in 2018 (4,389), the previous peak of the crisis.
Canada is also grappling with mental health concerns, with 42 per cent of people reporting their perceived mental health is “somewhat worse” or “much worse” than it was before the pandemic, according to the Canada Community Health Survey.
Although individuals aged 12 to 17 years were among the age groups least likely to report feelings of worsening mental health, the share of this demographic reporting perceptions of poorer mental health has doubled since September 2020.
Kids Help Phone, an e-mental health service offering free confidential support to young Canadians, reported that the number of calls, texts and clicks on their online resources more than doubled in 2020 over 2019.
And because many jurisdictions have postponed elective and other surgeries, Tam’s report suggests there will be a “future surge of cancer cases” once surgeries resume after COVID-19-related interruptions.
Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers Join Forces For THE FREEDOM MARCHING PROJECT
January 2022/Toronto, ON — Rufus John, award-winning Black Caribbean-Canadian R&B/ Soul singer & songwriter is gearing up to release the single, Freedom Marching (Part I). The song will be available for pre-order on January 10th, 2022 and will be featured on the 3-song EP, The Freedom Marching Project, which is slated to be released on February 4th, 2022.
In support of the release of the EP, the project will also consist of; two official music videos, one in-studio performance video, a Call-To-Action Commercial, a Behind the Scenes Docuseries and a website that will feature resources and information for those who are willing to watch, listen and learn to then #JoinTheMarch.
The Freedom Marching Project founded by John, was inspired by the thousands of people who had the courage to use their voice to take action by marching through streets all over the world shouting, “Black Lives Matter!” in what is hailed as the most significant civil rights movement of our generation. The goals of the Project are to use the creative power of Art, Education and Activism to; honor the community leaders who are fighting daily on the frontlines for equity, access, diversity, participation, and rights for Black, Indigenous, racialized communities, to shed light on the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous & Racialized communities and to provide resources and information to those who want to Stay Informed, Get Connected and Take Action.
John’s own music tells life stories of his past. A certified youth worker and mentor, John’s goal is to bring to the fore-front, deeply embedded issues experienced by the youth he helps and to inspire those who want to do more, to listen, to learn and join the movement. John’s mandate has always been to not just connect but to engage. John’s patience & commitment comes from his own experiences & mistakes and the people that helped him. Walking alongside the youth he mentors is not only necessary for their journey but for his. Being in for the long term is important. Showing up is key.
John used his connections within the music industry to bring together some Juno & Grammy award winners & nominees to lend their voices and talents to this special project. Collectively the talented group is called, United Artists 4 change and the ensemble features over 40 Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers from around Canada. The EP was produced by Da-Rell Clifton, vocally produced by Gary McAuley, Rufus John & Darren Hamilton, and mixed/mastered by Dan Brodbeck. Some of the artists involved are: JRDN, Carlos Morgan, D.O, Chad Price, Dan-e-o, Owen “O Sound” Lee, Dwayne Morgan, Quisha Wint, Jason Simmons (Vocal Paint), The McAuley Boys, Nefe, Clair Davis, Aphrose, D/Shon and The Waterloo Region Mass Choir.
The Freedom Marching Project has partnered with Community leader Selam Debs & the initiative Parents of Black Children. A Go Fund Me page has been set up where people can donate for the month of February and all the proceeds raised via Go Fund Me will be evenly distributed between The Freedom Marching Project and our partners who are combating racism, oppression and discrimination within the current systems and communities.
Jan 10th: Pre save/order Freedom Marching (Part I)
Jan 17th: Docuseries Ep.1
Jan 21st: Docuseries Ep. 2
Jan 26th: Docuseries Ep. 3
Jan 28th: Freedom Marching (Part I) Release
Feb 1st: In Studio Music Video Release
Feb 4th: Full EP Release
Feb 11th & 12th: Music Videos Release
Connect with The Freedom Marching Project:
Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@freedommarchingproject
** Talent available for interviews
Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
National Gaming on Capital Hill
This past January 13th, The US Supreme Court issued two rulings blocking an Occupational Safety and Health Administrations COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for employers who have 100 or more employees, while allowing a separate rule which applies to healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funds.
The 6-3 decision blocked OSHA and other organizations from imposing any such rule. While the OSHA made every effort to enforce temporary emergency standards in its massive organization, it seems the influence and legal pressure applied by both Labor and Corporations to end this attempt to have 84 million workers get COVID-19 vaccinations was too much for the administration.
The Supreme court directed organizations and corporations with more than 100 employees to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with exceptions for employees that instead are required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face mask at work.
While many corporations and manufacturers did enforce OSHA rules and carry out the needed mass vaccinations, the problem arose that such an organization such as OSHA had never issued such a mandate, and Congress had declined to enact any measure similar to OSHA’s. What do we have here folks? A governmental organization trying to carry out what the Biden Administration has asked to be done in America. The vaccines are available, but a large portion of America remains unvaccinated.
Instead of issuing a Presidential Executive Order declaring an emergency, the Administration has directed a few organizations to do so that they can wait and see if such a mandate will be accepted and approved by the population, labor, and business sectors. Perhaps it is the way this is being done that is the problem for The Supreme court, or the Republican friendly conservative of the court simply outnumber the liberal members. Politics as usual. Ineffectual, unworkable politics where no matter the issue, the Republicans will block any Democratic Administration’s attempt to protect America.
A nation divided, even when the lives of many are at stake. American media makes the storming of the Capital on Jan 6th seem like an emergency, an insurrection of serious substance while the Republicans on the Capital, block in every way possible any attempt to save lives through public safety and health mandates. Remember how the Republican strategy to make Obama Administration seem ineffectual by blocking all legislative efforts? The same Republicans are repeating this strategy with the Biden Administration. A sports analogy whereby one blocks constantly until your opponent makes a mistake and fumbles. While the lives of millions are threatened by COVID-19 these Republicans play games with the nation. Americans are feeling stressed, hopeless, and fearful of their future and yet their elected officials cannot work together to accomplish anything, except perhaps giving themselves a wage increase. Have those on Capital Hill forgotten who they represent?
Health Canada expected to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 therapeutic today: sources – CBC News
Health Canada is expected to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 therapeutic today for use in this country, sources told CBC News and Radio-Canada.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the health regulator’s chief medical adviser, will speak to the media at 11 a.m. ET. CBCNews.ca will carry her remarks live.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid, which is an antiviral prescribed by a doctor and administered in pill form, is designed to help the body fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus, reduce symptoms from an infection and shorten the period of illness.
The product has been hailed as a pandemic “game changer” by some doctors because it could reduce hospitalizations and deaths among COVID-19 patients. An effective pill that’s easy to self-administer at home could relieve some of the pressure on the health-care system and change the trajectory of the pandemic, experts say.
After months-long clinical trials, Pfizer reported in November that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by an impressive 89 per cent compared to a placebo in non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.
Canada has placed an order for an initial quantity of one million treatment courses. Some of that supply will start to arrive after Health Canada’s expected approval.
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