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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 8 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 74 more COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — once again its most cases in a daily report since the end of September — and no deaths.

Pfizer and BioNTech are sharing preliminary findings that a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new omicron variant in a laboratory test, the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against omicron.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office tells CBC details of its holiday COVID-19 testing blitz are coming next week.

Ottawa Public Health moved vaccine appointments from the Rideauview Community Centre to the Nepean Sportsplex today because of what police say was a suspicious package in the area. The building was quickly reopened and vaccinations will resume there tomorrow.

How many cases are there?

As of Wednesday, Ottawa has had 32,475 confirmed cases of COVID-19

There are 475 known active cases, while 31,382 cases are considered resolved and 618 people have died from the illness.

Public health officials have reported more than 61,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 58,800 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 235 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.

Akwesasne has had more than 1,150 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 14 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 45 cases and one death. Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has had 43 cases, one death and is in the midst of an active outbreakPikwàkanagàn hasn’t had any cases.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

The province’s vaccine passport is required for people age 12 and up in many public places. It won’t be required for younger kids. People can prove their vaccine status with a paper document, a PDF file or a QR code.

There are no capacity restrictions for most places that require proof of vaccination, nor for outdoor organized events.

Private gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside.

The plan is to lift public health measures in stages until March 2022, with the next step paused as officials monitor some rising trends.

Half Moon Bay Public School in Barrhaven is closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to 17 student cases. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Health officials say people should recommit to the fundamentals of getting vaccinated, testing and staying home when sick and limiting social contacts.

Local officials can change rules — for example, Renfrew County has done that for isolation, the Kingston and Belleville areas for school symptoms and the Kingston area for indoor gatherings.

Kingston’s medical officer of health and Akwesasne’s council are both asking residents to avoid in-person gatherings.

Western Quebec

Ten people are allowed to gather inside homes and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. The indoor gathering limit goes up to 20 people on Dec. 23.

There are no capacity limits for Quebec venues with assigned seats and restaurants.

A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. It won’t apply to younger kids. People can use an app or show paper proof.

Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff and visitors.

What can I do?

Prevention

COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine.

This means it is important to take precautions such as staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed —  keeping hands and surfaces clean and considering distancing from anyone you don’t live with.

Masks, preferably medical or surgical ones, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

Skaters glide on the Rink of Dreams outside Ottawa City Hall on Dec. 3, 2021, the first day this season the rink was open. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

When and how long to self-isolate can vary in Quebec and Ontario and by vaccination status.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.

Scientists are working to find out how easily the new omicron coronavirus variant spreads, its severity and the performance of vaccines against it.

WATCH | Speculation omicron may be more transmissible and cause less severe disease: 

Omicron more transmissible but milder than delta variant, initial research suggests

16 hours ago

Duration 1:59

Initial evidence about the omicron variant seems to suggest that the strain is more transmissible but less severe than the delta variant. But scientists studying omicron caution that understanding the full threat of omicron will take more time. 1:59

Travel

Travellers more than 12 years and four months old must now be fully vaccinated to board a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada.

The U.S. requires everyone crossing a land, air or water border to be fully vaccinated. People flying there will need proof of a negative COVID test within a day of departure.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents no longer need proof of a test when returning from trips to the U.S. under 72 hours.

The hope is that other countries will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.

People have to be fully vaccinated and pre-approved to enter Canada. Because of the omicron variant, air travellers from every country except the United States have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and isolate until they get results.

There are further travel restrictions from a number of African countries because of omicron.

Vaccines

Vaccines curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19 and go a long way toward avoiding deaths and hospitalizations, without offering total protection.

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada, with some age restrictions.

WATCH | More information on Canada’s first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine: 

The importance of Canada’s 1st home-grown COVID-19 vaccine

15 hours ago

Duration 4:52

Quebec company Medicago is getting ready to submit data about its COVID-19 vaccine for final regulatory approval, which is a significant step for the pandemic and Canada’s bio-pharmaceutical industry. 4:52

Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children as young as five. Doses for kids age five to 11 will be given at least eight weeks apart in both local provinces.

Ontario’s next third shot expansion comes Monday morning for people in their 50s and 60s; Quebec expanded it in early December and plans to lower its age in January.

There have been more than 3.8 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone born in 2016 and earlier.

People can look for provincial appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

Local health units have some flexibility, so check their websites for details. Many offer child-only clinics and doses on short notice as campaigns look to fill gaps in vaccine coverage and cover expanded eligibility.

Pharmacies and some family doctors offer vaccines through their own booking systems.

Western Quebec

Anyone who is five and older can get an appointment or visit a permanent or mobile walk-in clinic.

Clinics for children are in schools and kids will need written consent from a parent to be vaccinated there.

Siblings can be booked together in a single time slot and parents can check a box to signal if their child is nervous.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, headache, vomiting and loss of taste or smell.

“Long-haul” symptoms can last for months. 

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario says to get tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you fit certain criteria. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Select pharmacies test people with symptoms, along with certain people without symptoms.

Rapid and take-home tests are available in some places, including pharmacies and some child-care settings when risk is high. A positive test will trigger a follow-up.

Travellers who need a test have local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment or see if they’re near a walk-in option online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during hours the line is running.

Gargle tests are offered in some places instead of a swab.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec daycarespreschools and elementary schools. The province has asked the federal government for millions more tests and hopes they can eventually be given out for free.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has COVID-19 test and vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341.

People in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg can call the health centre at 819-449-5593 for a test or vaccine; email is another option for vaccine booking.

Tests are available in Pikwàkanagàn by calling 613-625-1175 and vaccines (including third doses) at 613-625-2259 extension 225 or by email.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

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COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Jan. 21: weekly recap, 94 hospitalized, 601 new cases – Halifax Examiner

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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Testing

There are now now 94 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID symptoms, 13 of whom are in ICU. Those 57 range in age from 0 to 100 years old, and the average age is 68.

Additionally, there are:
• 73 people admitted to hospital for other reasons but who tested positive for COVID during the admissions screening or who were admitted for COVID but no longer require specialized care
• 113 people in hospital who contracted COVID in the hospital outbreaks

The 94 people now hospitalized because of COVID have the following vaccination status:
The vaccination status of those 94 is:
• 11 (11.7%) have had 3 doses
• 60 (63.8%) have had 2 doses but not 3
• 4 (4.3%) have had 1 dose
• 19 (20.2%) are unvaccinated
Note that only 9.3% of the population is unvaccinated

My very rough calculation of the rate by vaccination status of those hospitalized (based on numbers of the population in each category two weeks ago) is as follows:
• (11) a rate of 6.1 per 100K with 3 doses
• (60) a rate of 9.8 per 100K with 2 doses (but not 3)
• (4) a rate of 5.7 per 100K with 1 dose only
• (19) a rate of 18.0 per 100k unvaccinated

Additionally, the province announced 601 new cases of COVID-19 today. The new cases are people who received a positive PCR test result from a Nova Scotia Health lab; it does not include people who tested positive using a take-home rapid (antigen) test.

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 269 Central
• 120 Eastern
• 49 Northern
• 163 Western

Public Health estimates that there are 5,241 active cases in the province; the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.

The graph above shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) number of new cases for the duration of the pandemic.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and weekly deaths (red, right axis). If deaths lag three weeks behind cases, we may (nothing is certain) see 10-20 more deaths in the next couple of weeks.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and the number hospitalized on Fridays (orange, right axis) for the duration of the pandemic.

Jail outbreak

“Active COVID-19 cases at the provincial jail in Burnside are down to 11,” reports Zane Woodford:

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility has had an outbreak since late-December, and Justice Department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn told the Halifax Examiner there have now been a total of 140 cases at the jail.

“As of Jan. 21, there are 11 active cases among those currently in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” Fairbairn wrote in an email.

As has been the case throughout, according to Fairbairn, none of the prisoners is in hospital and there are no cases in the jail’s women’s unit.

Fairbairn said since January 1, five people have been approved for temporary absences or early release. The population at the jail, as of January 20, was 223. That means about 63% of prisoners at the facility have had COVID-19.

Hospital outbreaks

There are two new cases at ongoing hospital outbreaks, one each at:
• Cape Breton Regional Hospital for a total of fewer than 10 in that ward
• Victoria General for a total of fewer than 10


Vaccination

Vaccination data were not reported today “due to a technical issue.”

The graph above shows the vaccination progress as captured on Fridays through the pandemic, except Thursday for this week. The yellow line is people with at least one dose of vaccine The blue line is people with only one dose. The green line is people with two doses but not three. The grey line is people with three doses. The red line is 80% of the population.

Appointments for boosters are now open to people 30 and over for whom 168 days have passed since their second shot.

Vaccination appointments for people 5 years of age and older can be booked here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.

There are many drop-in Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled, starting next week, several for kids five years old and older.


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,975 PCR tests yesterday, with a positivity rate of 15.1%.

If you test positive with a rapid (antigen) test, you are assumed to definitely have COVID, and you and your household are to self-isolate as required.

But take-home rapid testing kits are no longer widely available.

Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Saturday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Glace Bay Legion, 11am-3pm

Sunday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Knights of Columbus (KOC) Hall (New Waterford), 11am-3pm

Monday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Hubbards Lions Club, 11am-3pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.


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Mexican president has cardiac catheterization, health said to be good

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador underwent a cardiac catheterization in hospital on Friday and was found to be in good health, the interior ministry said in a statement.

“In this procedure, the heart and the arteries of the president were found to be healthy and functioning appropriately,” the statement said.

Lopez Obrador, 68, who had a serious heart attack in 2013 and recently recovered from his second coronavirus infection, underwent the procedure as part of a check-up every six months that include lab tests, electrocardiograms, stress tests and CT scans, the government said.

The medical team said the latest results indicated the need for a cardiac catheterization, without providing further details on why they performed what they described as a 30-minute procedure.

The government said “no other type of intervention” was needed and that Lopez Obrador was in “perfect health.”

The procedure inserts a thin tube into a large blood vessel leading to the heart and can detect how well the heart is working.

Lopez Obrador said he had mild symptoms from both bouts of COVID-19. In the most recent case earlier this month, he went into isolation for a week before returning to public activities, including lengthy daily news conferences.

On his first day back, he praised honey, pain reliever paracetamol and VapoRub, a topical ointment popular in Mexico, for helping ease his symptoms.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Dave Graham and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by William Mallard)

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Small children getting less sick from Omicron; Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID

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The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Small children are getting less sick from Omicron

In very young children, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes less severe disease than the Delta variant, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed data on nearly 80,000 U.S. children under age 5 with a first infection, including 7,201 infected in late December or early January when Omicron was causing more than 90% of cases. After accounting for other risk factors, including medical conditions and socioeconomic circumstances, researchers found children infected during the Omicron surge had a 29% lower risk of emergency department visits, a 67% lower risk of hospitalization, a 68% lower risk of needing intensive care, and a 71% lower risk of needing machines to breathe, compared to children infected with Delta. However, “because of Omicron’s increased transmissibility, the overall number of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mechanical ventilator use in children may still be greater” with Omicron than with Delta, according to a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

The investigators have also observed that infection rates were disproportionately higher in Black and Hispanic children for both Omicron and Delta for this age group, and the gap widened for infections with Omicron, said study leader Rong Xu of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Not yet published data shows that “children under 5 had the highest infection rate with Omicron” compared to older children and adults in all age groups, she said.

Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID-19

New findings add to evidence that people with a certain version of a gene are less likely to develop severe COVID-19.

Earlier research had identified a specific group of genes, called the OAS1/2/3 gene cluster, as being involved in the risk for severe COVID-19. One version of a gene in that cluster – passed down from Neanderthals – appeared to protect against severe disease, reducing the risk by about 23%. The earlier research was done mainly in people of European ancestry. According to a report published in Nature Genetics, researchers now see the same association of this genetic variant with less severe COVID-19 in people of African ancestry.

“The fact that individuals of African descent had the same protection allowed us to identify the unique variant in the DNA that actually protects from COVID-19 infection,” coauthor Dr. Jennifer Huffman of said in a statement. OAS genes are involved in a cascade of effects that help cells fight viruses, the researchers said. Understanding of these genes and their effect on COVID-19 risks could aid development of future drugs, they added.

Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTech

When the Delta variant of the coronavirus was prevalent in the United States, recipients of two doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine were less likely to experience a breakthrough infection – and if they did, were slightly less likely to be hospitalized – than recipients of two doses of the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, a large study found.

Researchers analyzed health records of more than 637,000 vaccine recipients who were not previously infected with the virus and had not gotten a booster shot. As reported on Thursday in JAMA, breakthrough infections steadily increased every month from July to November 2021, with higher rates in the Pfizer/BioNTech group. In November, there were 2.8 cases among every thousand people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots, compared to 1.6 cases per thousand recipients of the Moderna vaccines. The vaccines protected equally well against death, but the hospitalization rate was 12.7% for infected Moderna recipients and 13.3% for Pfizer/BioNTech recipients. When the researchers compared 62,584 Moderna recipients to a closely-matched equal-sized group of Pfizer/BioNTech recipients, the risk for breakthrough infection was 15% lower in the Moderna group.

“Although there is a difference in breakthrough infections, both vaccines are highly protective against SARS-COV2 infection and especially against the most severe consequences of infection,” said coauthor Pamela Davis of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in a statement.

Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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