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Around this time last year, COVID-19 cases rose rapidly in Windsor and Essex County, as now.

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And like now, despite education, some companies did not follow public health rules.

Social gatherings were also driving the raises, like now.

But unlike now, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, a medical health officer who takes no prisoners, established the law.

“Any business … any individual, any social gathering, anything that may be in violation of these measures will be charged,” he said in a public briefing.

No more educating people on public health rules. No more begging people to follow you. No more excuses.

“Zero tolerance,” Ahmed said.

“All of us, individuals and businesses, have all suffered enough in this pandemic, and it is time to take our own responsibility, do the right thing, and take action,” he said.

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“There is no time for us to continue doing education,” he said. “We need to take action.”

That is what we need now.

Last month, a meeting at a Kingsville restaurant generated 45 infections.

Last week, a video of people shoulder to shoulder, without masks, circulated in a downtown Windsor bar.

On Saturday, people at a South Windsor restaurant were mingling, hugging, dancing. Nobody wore masks. It was a COVID-19 powder keg. My husband and I had a reservation. We left.

The stricter rules that began Friday followed a highly publicized “case explosion,” as epidemiologist Ramsey D’Souza called it. It came after hospitals, public health officials and paramedics warned that cases were running low on capacity.

But for many people, their eyes are tightly closed.

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If we are not going to enforce the new measures, we had better remove them.

Public health officers were out on Friday and Saturday nights, the executive director of the health unit, Nicole Dupuis, said Monday.

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There were “various” charges, he said.

But, he said, “Our first goal always, especially when we have changes …, is to make sure that we are educating … Certainly, there was a lot of education over the weekend.

“Certainly in businesses like a restaurant, where people are very close to each other, without protection, it is a very, very high risk environment,” he said, “so we do a lot of education …”

This pandemic started 21 months ago. Cases are increasing, again. As Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Janice Kaffer tweeted last week, “the covid train is coming down the tracks.”

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The time for education is over. It’s time for everyone to take responsibility or pay the price for putting people at risk.

The Omicron variant comprised 10 percent of cases in Ontario last week. It’s now 31 percent, according to the province’s science chart on Monday. Cases double every three days. That makes Delta’s cases, which double every 41 days, seem like child’s play.

Omicron could be the dominant strain in Ontario “already this week,” states an urgent email, obtained by Windsor Star, from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore to healthcare leaders on Sunday.

The government is asking five major health care sectors to “activate as many channels as possible”, now, to increase the rate of vaccinations to combat the new variant. That includes booster shots for people 50 and older “with plans to accelerate to 18+ boosters ASAP …”

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The email acknowledges that healthcare employees are “tense,” that the Christmas holidays are planned, and that providing more staff for vaccination “may require the reduction or elimination of some (other) activities.”

“However,” he continues, “we are asking all partners in the health system to contribute to this strengthening effort.”

Health units are asked to double their capacity for booster vaccines while maintaining vaccination for children aged five to 11 years. Hospitals will reactivate their vaccination clinics. Family physicians must administer vaccines in their offices and in mobile clinics and teams. And paramedics must “increase their contributions.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a televised speech on Sunday, announced that he will call in the army to help offer reinforcement to everyone by December 31.

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“No one should have any doubt that an Omicron tsunami is coming,” he warned.

That’s how serious this is.

And no one should have any doubt that we are next.

There are still 240,000 people here who will be eligible for a booster shot and have not received it yet. That will take time. And the injections will not be effective until 14 days after administration. Only 26 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have received their first vaccination. Neither has had their second chance.

We won’t get to everyone before Omicron becomes dominant.

Then there are those who refuse to get vaccinated.

And although vaccines are the best weapon we have, they are not 100% effective. If we want to keep children in school, businesses open, and have the freedom to assemble, we need all the weapons we have, including public health measures.

But they only work if we follow them.

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Reference-windsorstar.com

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