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Ontario's top doctors suggests new vaccination target to account for risk posed by Delta variant – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Ontario’s top public health official says that the more transmissible Delta variant will continue to threaten the progress that the province has made until about 90 per cent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated.

The Doug Ford government has said that the final step of its reopening plan lifting virtually all remaining public health restrictions can’t begin until at least 80 per cent of those 12 and older have been partially vaccinated and 75 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

But during a briefing on Tuesday Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore suggested that the province needs to set a higher target in order to fully account for the risk of Delta.

“Certainly I’d love Ontario to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The modelling, though, tells us that once we’re at around 90 per cent of the eligible population immunized that the risk of Delta will be less for us,” he said.

“If we remain at around 20 per cent of the population unvaccinated we won’t build a community immunity and you’ll get breakthrough infections in those individuals that are vaccinated because not all individuals, especially those that are elderly or vulnerable or immune suppressed, will get full protection from the vaccine. So the higher the proportion of our population immunized the less we’ll have to worry about those vulnerable people getting COVID despite getting vaccinated.”

Ontario has administered more than 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine but Moore said that there are still about 2.4 million eligible individuals who have yet to receive even their first shot.

That, he said, has him concerned given surging case counts in some jurisdictions with lower vaccination rates, particularly in the southern United States.

The problem is that Ontario’s vaccine rollout has slowed particularly when it comes to the administration of first doses.

On Monday the province administered more than 132,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine but only about 17,000 of those were first doses.

At that rate it could take months for Ontario to hit the 90 per cent threshold among eligible residents.

“I have heard of multiple different immunizers starting to review the possibility for incentives and I think that’s reasonable in this environment,” Moore said on Tuesday. “It is the last mile or last kilometre where we are trying to really reach protection at the highest level for Ontarians and I think we will look at all possibilities for trying to achieve that whether it is through different partners in immunization incentivizing or ensuring that the accessibility and availability of immunization increases.”

The Delta variant is believed to account for more than 90 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in Ontario.

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No changes expected as COVID-19 cases surge in Central Okanagan: Kelowna airport – Revelstoke Review – Revelstoke Review

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With new restrictions announced specifically for the Central Okanagan today (July 28), the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) said they are not expecting any changes to their operations.

Senior manager of airport operations Phillip Elchitz said that with the COVID-19 safety plan already in place at YLW, they don’t expect much more to change.

Elchitz also said that they’re not expecting much impact on passenger numbers because of the new restrictions.

“YLW is not anticipating a reduction in commercial scheduled flights as a result of the new provincial health guidelines specific to the Central Okanagan,” he said.

“YLW currently has a mandatory mask policy in place for all areas of the Air Terminal Building and on aircrafts due to Transport Canada requirements.”

Individual passenger temperature is also checked just before they go through security as an added safety measure.

Earlier in the afternoon on July 28, the province announced that masks will be mandatory again in indoor public spaces throughout the Central Okanagan, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.

The province is also discouraging non-essential travel to and from the Central Okanagan, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who don’t have both doses yet.

READ MORE: Mask mandate returns to Central Okanagan, COVID-19 outbreak declared


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Nenshi says lifting Alberta’s remaining COVID-19 health orders is the ‘height of insanity’ – Global News

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The mayor of Calgary says it’s the “height of insanity” that Alberta is moving ahead with removing almost all of its remaining COVID-19 public health orders, even as cases climb in the province.

Alberta has ended isolation requirements for close contacts of people who test positive and contact tracers will no longer notify them of their exposure. The province has also ended asymptomatic testing.

Read more:
Alberta to adjust COVID-19 masking, isolation, testing rules over next month

Further measures are to be eliminated Aug. 16. People who test positive will no longer be required to isolate. Isolation hotels will close as quarantine supports end.

“It is inconceivable to me. It is the height of insanity to say we don’t even know what’s happening,” Nenshi said Thursday.

“It is putting the health of Albertans at risk. To stop contact tracing, to stop testing people for the coronavirus and to become one of the first _ if not the first — jurisdictions in the world to say that people who have tested positive, who are infectious, can just go about their lives.”


Click to play video: 'Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll'



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Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll


Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll

Naheed Nenshi, who was making an announcement at the Calgary airport, said if he were in another jurisdiction he would be thinking hard whether to put travel restrictions on Albertans starting Aug. 16.

“I’m aware of no science that backs this up. It is clear for the last month or so on this file (that) our government has been grasping and struggling, just trying to get some good news out of something,” he said.

Read more:
Amid pushback, Alberta health minister defends plan to ease COVID-19 isolation, masking, testing rules

“To say we don’t want to know who has the coronavirus, we don’t want to track outbreaks. Even the most fervent of the anti-maskers wouldn’t say (to) unleash people who are actually infectious into the population.”

Nenshi said he worries that the decision to lift the health orders is politically motivated and has nothing to do with science at all.

“The only possible explanation here is a political one. It might be that they’ve run out of money, but you know what? Don’t spend $1.5 billion on a pipeline you know isn’t going to get built if you’re running out of money.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Businesses, tourism sector worried about impact of local virus restrictions in Central Okanagan – Kelowna News – Castanet.net

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[embedded content]

Madison Erhardt

Come to the Central Okanagan, but only if you’re fully vaccinated.

That is the message from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and Tourism Kelowna after the provincial government announced new local steps Wednesday to try and lower COVID-19 cases.

A new regional mask policy was announced by Interior Health after 240 new cases of the virus were identified among Central Okanagan residents in the last week.

Along with the indoor mask mandate, the province is now discouraging non-essential travel into and out of the Central Okanagan for people who are not immunized.

TOTA says after an extremely tough 15 months they are concerned about how it might affect the industry, but she says it is a necessary step.

‘’I think the bigger concern is that if we don’t address it now and get things under control we will continue to lose ground. We have done so well up until now. I think that doing this to make sure that we nip it in the bud and we get a good rest of the summer and fall is very important,” said senior vice president Ellen Walker-Matthews.

Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the change will likely impact frontline staff the most.

“We know especially with having dealt with the haze and smoke recently that this is going to have an impact on our tourism businesses. Primarily it is going to be our frontline staff I’m afraid. These are the folks who are dealing with the public every day, and because this health order is only for the Central Okanagan, many travellers don’t realize that it is in effect and it is the frontline staff that have to do the education.”

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says the regional mandate has also caused some confusion amongst businesses.

“Earlier this year we were loud and clear along with chambers across the Interior when our numbers were extremely low we petitioned the province to do regional decision making because the rates were so high in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley they introduced the circuit breaker,” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Dan Rogers.

“When they did that it had a massive impact on our businesses even though our rates were low. The line we heard from the province at that time was all of our decisions would be made province-wide and there won’t be any regionally based decision making. Now they have flip-flopped,” Rogers added.

The Interior’s vaccination rate is slightly lower than the provincial average, with 60 per cent of eligible people having received both doses, compared to B.C.’s 63.2 per cent.

Interior Health did not announce an end date for the new measure but says it will be in place for “at least 14 days.

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