The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
6:10 am When Matthew Seabrook brought his 10-year-old son to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in late November, a wave of relief washed over London, Ontario. dad.
He was happy to immediately schedule his son for dose n. 2 eight weeks later, by the end of January.
To Seabrook, it all seemed “reasonable” and hopeful, as one of the great burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic for parents – getting their children the best vaccine protection available – could finally be lifted off their shoulders.
“A big priority for us has been doing everything we can to make sure he can go to school in person this year,” Seabrook, who, along with his wife, homeschooled their son last year. “We are very happy to give her her first dose.”
Parents like Seabrook are now making decisions about whether to try to get a second dose for their children before the eight-week interval recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
Read more about Alex McKeen and Jeremy Nuttall from Star.
6 a. M. A stuffed chicken dinner, mixed with some Indian food. A Secret Santa gift exchange. Everyone gathered around the TV to watch “Home Alone.”
These are the simple joys of the holidays that Dr. Nitin Mohan, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Western University, hopes to share with a couple of extended family members, after COVID essentially canceled the season last year.
“While I am frustrated that we are not going to have the Christmas we thought we would have a month ago, when I look at where we were last year, I still think that we are in a better position than where we were before. then, ”said Mohan, who is being very cautious since he and his wife have a five-month-old son.
The Star reached out to COVID-19 experts, including Mohan, to ask how they were marking the 2021 holiday, whether it was celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years Eve, or just enjoying some time off at the job.
Read more about Lex Harvey and May Warren from Star.
5:50 am The Omicron variant poses a surprising new threat to Ontario’s vulnerable long-term care households, facing the prospect of “rapid and uncontrolled growth” in COVID-19 cases for the first time since Wave 2, warn officials. experts.
Since spring, long-term care has largely been spared the worst, as the launch of the vaccine in the province prevented a repeat of the massive outbreaks that devastated the sector during the first and second waves, killing nearly 4,000.
But, experts warn, Omicron’s increased ability to infect vaccinated people could make it more likely that the virus will once again spread through Ontario nursing homes in a way we haven’t seen in nearly a year. anus.
Read more from Star’s Kenyon Wallace and Ed Tubb.
5:45 am Fans packed the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday to watch the Maple Leafs, and then again on Monday to cheer on the Raptors.
And as tens of thousands of people gathered for the two games, daily COVID-19 case counts in Toronto and across the province rose rapidly, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The surge in cases has prompted some experts to call for crowd restrictions at professional sporting events in Ontario, with one suggesting capacity limits and the elimination of concession stands. Others said fans shouldn’t be in the stands at all.
Amid these calls, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer for health, said his team was reviewing its policy. The review will be presented to Doug Ford’s provincial government for options. Moore said he expected more news to be announced later this week, while urging older people and immunosuppressed people to avoid mass gatherings.
Read more from Laura Armstrong from Star.
05:30 am Prime Minister Doug Ford will announce an expanded COVID-19 booster vaccination plan on Wednesday as his government develops new measures across the province to curb the rise of the supercontagious variant Omicron.
“We are on the warpath to get as many needles into arms as possible, working with unions and companies to do everything possible,” a senior official told the Star.
There is mounting frustration in the government with Ontario’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, and the scientific board over delays in a booster plan and widespread rapid tests. Doctors resisted the boosters for months because they did not want Ontario to treasure precious vaccines and were hesitant about rapid tests and false-positive results.
“We have enough vaccine. We just need to give it to the people, ”said the senior official.
Under pressure to quickly expand the boosters to everyone 18 and older instead of waiting until January 4 as scheduled last week, Ford’s cabinet is meeting to discuss options for a rapid expansion of the third doses.
Read more from Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie from Star.
5:15 am European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that omicron is expected to be the dominant variant of the coronavirus in the 27-nation bloc by mid-January.
The head of the EU executive branch said the bloc is well prepared to fight Omicron with 66.6% of the European population now fully vaccinated against the virus.
Von der Leyen said he is confident that the EU has the “strength” and “means” to overcome the disease, although he expressed disappointment that the end of the year celebrations will once again be disrupted by the pandemic.
“Like many of you, I am saddened that once again this Christmas is overshadowed by the pandemic,” Von der Leyen said.
He added that the EU is now facing a double challenge, with a massive increase in cases in recent weeks due to the Delta variant combined with the rise of Omicron, as some member countries already face a record number of infections.
“We see an increasing number of sick people, a greater burden on hospitals and, sadly, an increase in the number of deaths,” he said.
5:10 am The federal government is poised to tighten Canada’s borders once again, warning Canadians against all non-essential travel and preparing to increase border testing and quarantine measures, Star learned.
Among them, Canadians traveling abroad are required to re-produce negative PCR tests upon return, even for short trips out of the country of 72 hours or less, a condition that was removed briefly before the appearance of the Omicron variant.
The government had considered a broader border closure, with a ban on foreign nationals who were not essential workers, which would have prevented travelers, including Americans, from entering Canada at all points of entry, including land and air. . But liberals appeared to abandon that plan after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to prime ministers in a teleconference Tuesday night.
Travelers entering fully vaccinated should be screened upon arrival and should be quarantined at home while awaiting negative test results.
Read more from Tonda MacCharles from Star.
5 am With the Omicron variant on its way to being the most prevalent strain of COVID-19 in Ontario, many are wondering what symptoms they should watch out for to keep themselves and their loved ones safe before the holidays.
Early data from South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, shows that this strain of the virus is milder than others. But scientists say the data doesn’t tell the whole story, as South Africa’s population is younger and many have already been infected with COVID-19 or are vaccinated and therefore have more antibodies to fight it.
“Those symptoms may actually be more representative of progressive infections, which are milder than a person who has never been vaccinated, who has never been infected, and who has it for the first time,” said Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist and professor of the University of Waterloo.
So as cases increase, what symptoms should people be aware of?
Read more from Nadine Yousif from Star.
4:45 am A rugby tournament is linked to the spread of COVID-19 cases, including Omicron cases, across Canada.
BC Provincial Health Official Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a briefing Tuesday that there had been an outbreak of cases at the University of Victoria, involving the Omicron and Delta variants.
“The introduction of Omicron (was) related to a rugby tournament, which Omicron has unfortunately extended to college communities across the country,” Henry said.
Although he did not name the tournament, BC health officials said it was a tournament with Queen’s University.
Read more from Alex McKeen from Star.