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Ottawa's top doctor urges all residents to 'focus on reducing' COVID transmission | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa

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Ottawa’s top doctor is urging all residents to “pause or greatly limit” the size of indoor gatherings as the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads rapidly through the city.

“Over the coming weeks, everyone in Ottawa must focus on reducing transmission of COVID-19 to get to the other side of this Omicron surge with a more vaccinated, and more protected community,” said medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches in a statement on New Year’s Eve.

Ottawa Public Health reported 1,508 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, a record number of new cases during the 21-month pandemic. The positivity rate for Ottawa is 28.5 per cent for the week of Dec. 24 to 30.

“The information we have shows us that COVID-19 transmission is increasing at an exponential rate in our community,” said Etches.

“With so much COVID-19 in our community and reduced access to testing, we need to treat possible COVID symptoms as if they are a COVID-19 infection.”

The Ontario government has issued new testing guidelines for the public due to the scarcity of PCR tests across the province. Starting Friday, PCR tests will only be available for symptomatic high-risk individuals and those who work in the highest risk settings.

Anyone with COVID-19-related symptoms is asked to assume they have the virus and isolate according to new isolation guidelines. Individuals who are vaccinated will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms, while unvaccinated individuals must isolate for 10 days. Isolation can end for vaccinated individuals after five days as long as symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.

“As we enter the first weeks of 2022, the message is clear: stay home if you are sick and until symptoms have resolved and stay home if a member of your household is sick,” said Dr. Etches.

“This will help protect people at risk for severe illness and slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Ottawa’s medical officer of health is asking people for the next couple of weeks to do the following:

  • Pause or greatly limit the size of indoor gatherings with people outside of your household, including pausing participation in extracurricular indoor sports and team play  
  • Actively screen yourself and members of your household for COVID-19 symptoms, and stay home if you are sick  
  • Get children aged 5 to 11 vaccinated with first doses, and book a second doses as soon as they are eligible 
  • Book your booster dose as soon as you are able 

Ottawa Public Health released thousands of new appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations on Friday, but were filled within a few hours.

“As we head into the new year, I encourage everyone to look out for one another, do your part to assess risk and proactively take actions to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Etches. “I know that together we will get through this surge and come out the other side. We’ve done it before and we’re doing it right now. “

Ontario implemented new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings on Dec. 19 Capacity for restaurants, bars, retailers, personal care settings and gyms is capped at 50 per cent, while indoor private gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Last call is at 10 p.m. at bars and restaurants, with indoor dining rooms closing at 11 p.m.

Dr. Etches also issued a letter of instruction to limit capacity to 50 per cent at all indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas, museums and galleries and churches.

Ottawa Public Health introduced further restrictions for bars and restaurants. Patrons must be seated at all times when consuming food and drinks, and no more than six people are allowed per table.

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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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