Ontario will unveil new restrictions to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19 and is working to begin offering boosters for those 18 and older before January 4, as the Omicron variant spreads faster than usual. planned just a few days ago.

Measures to be taken Tuesday include requiring all nursing home visitors to be vaccinated and setting a limit of two visitors, government sources said.

“Visitors should get vaccinated at least twice because older people are more vulnerable,” said Lisa Levin of AdvantAge Ontario, representing nonprofit households.

“Things have changed.”

Homes have been testing visitors, but that’s not enough, Levin said, raising concerns about how many nursing home workers have backups and what could happen to the levels of care for frail and elderly residents if too many staff hire. the virus.

Ontario’s seven-day average of cases rose 40 percent in the past week to 1,328 new infections Monday, and the 1,536 new infections Monday were nearly double last Monday’s level, although hospitalizations and unit admissions Intensive care generally remain relatively stable and within health. system capacity.

While medical director Dr. Kieran Moore said Friday that 10 percent of new infections were Omicron as of Thursday and would hit 20 percent this week, that level was reached Sunday and rose to 30 percent. cent on monday.

The scientific chart advising Moore and Ford said Omicron is now doubling every three days, compared to 34 days for the Delta variant that has been dominant since spring and summer but is rapidly being overtaken. Omicron is on track to replace Delta on Christmas Day.

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That speed, and concerns that two doses will not be enough to slow the spread of Omicron, is fueling a push from the provincial government to work with regional public health units to increase booster clinics, with longer hours and more daily openings. .

Moore said Friday that third shots for those 18 and older wouldn’t start until Jan. 4, but the goal now is to bring that date forward.

“Jan. 4 is not that far, but we will move faster if we can,” said a senior government source.

More than 115,000 of the 50-69-year-old age group who became eligible for boosters on Monday had booked mid-afternoon appointments with multiple reports of inconveniences and delays on the provincial website.

About 3.4 million of that cohort are eligible for boosters.

“It is very frustrating to see people 50 and older faced with chaos, long waits and clashes trying to hire reinforcements today,” said new Democratic leader Andrea Horwath on Twitter. “People deserve better.”

As part of the government’s strategy, Moore sent automated calls to thousands of eligible Ontario residents on Monday urging them to get reinforcements.

Meanwhile, the province moved Monday to pause the back-to-office schedule for the civil service, starting Friday through February 7, due to the spike in COVID-19 and following Moore’s guidance last Friday. that employers should allow workers to telecommute. where possible.

“Over the next week, we will ask all managers to assess the operational requirements locally and what work can be done remotely,” Cabinet Secretary Michelle DiEmanuele said in a memo.


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