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Canada COVID updates, Dec. 3: Quebec will announce booster timeline for people 50+ next week, Dubé says

07:51  04 december  2021
07:51  04 december  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

COVID live updates: Quebec parents most hesitant about vaccinating young children, poll suggests

  COVID live updates: Quebec parents most hesitant about vaccinating young children, poll suggests Updated throughout the day on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com Top updates Opinion: Outpouring of love for Montreal restaurants turns to disrespect Quebec tourism industry urges Ottawa to drop PCR testing for fully vaxxed travellers to Canada Quebec gave $68M in pandemic loans to companies that didn’t qualify: auditor-general Canada will soon have enough doses for every eligible child to get their first dose Quebec parents most hesitant about vaccinating young children, poll suggests Vaccination begins for young children in Quebec Quebec reports 1 death, 882 new cases – most since early September COVID cases break records in Europe, prom

A nurse and a pharmacist prepare doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Shri Ramji Mandhata Temple in Montreal on Friday, May 28, 2021. © Provided by The Gazette A nurse and a pharmacist prepare doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Shri Ramji Mandhata Temple in Montreal on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Updated throughout the day on Friday, Dec. 3. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com

Top updates

  • Prior infection little defence against Omicron mutation, South Africa study says
  • Will COVID-19 vaccines have to be updated for Omicron?
  • Video: Is Quebec behind other provinces in rolling out third vaccine doses?
  • Canada buying up to 1.5 million courses of oral antiviral drugs to fight COVID-19
  • Quebec will announce plan to offer boosters to people 50+ next week, Dubé says
  • Give boosters to people 50+, health care workers, federal committee says
  • Quebec reports 2 deaths, 1,355 new cases – most since April
  • With holidays approaching, is Quebec set for a repeat of last year?
  • Quebec’s unemployment rate now back at pre-pandemic level, Statistics Canada says
  • Legault could lift shroud of cabinet secrecy on COVID-19 response, expert says
  • Among provinces, Quebec has highest per-capita case count
  • Sign up for our free nightly coronavirus newsletter
5 p.m.

Thanks for reading

I’ll be back tomorrow with another live blog.

COVID live updates: Opposition blasts Legault for mixed messages on Christmas gatherings

  COVID live updates: Opposition blasts Legault for mixed messages on Christmas gatherings Updated throughout the day on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com Top updates Live: Federal officials provide update on Canada’s response to Omicron variant Video: Under fire from opposition, Legault says his government’s cooperating with coroner’s CHSLD inquiry BioNTech CEO says vaccine likely to protect against severe COVID from Omicron FAQ: What we know so far about the Omicron variant ‘We will listen to public health’ on Christmas gatherings, Legault says People 60+ should avoid international travel due to Omicron threat, WHO says PQ, Liberals accuse Legault government of obstructing CHSLD inquiry Opposition blasts Legault for mixed message

In the meantime, you can follow all our coverage via the coronavirus page .

My previous COVID-19 live blogs are available here .

4:25 p.m.

P.E.I. expands booster shot eligibility to all adults

3:45 p.m.

Prior infection little defence against Omicron mutation, South Africa study says

Scientists in South Africa say omicron is at least three times more likely to cause reinfection than previous variants such as beta and delta, according to a preliminary study published Thursday.

Boosters help fight COVID-19, experts say. But are they the pathway out of the pandemic?

  Boosters help fight COVID-19, experts say. But are they the pathway out of the pandemic? As Ontario broadens its COVID-19 booster eligibility to those aged 50 and up, experts say the threat of the Omicron variant is unclear — and that poorer nations need these doses. As provinces expand their COVID-19 booster eligibility to respond to the Omicron variant, experts are warning Canada not to lose sight of the long-term pathway out of the pandemic: global vaccination efforts.

Read our full story.

3:45 a.m.

Will COVID-19 vaccines have to be updated for Omicron?

The warning from the head of Moderna, the pharmaceuticals group, that COVID-19 vaccines were likely to be less effective against the Omicron variant has provoked anxiety over the best weapon the world has to fight the pandemic.

While the boss of vaccine developer BioNTech offered reassurance that the fully inoculated would have a “high level of protection against severe disease” from the new strain, there is as yet no conclusive evidence on how immune protection holds up against the heavily mutated variant.

Read our full story.

2:40 p.m.

Coughing Biden says he has a cold

A hoarse-sounding President Joe Biden said on Friday he has a cold, possibly contracted from a grandson, the Reuters news agency reports.

After a speech about the U.S. economy in which he sounded congested and coughed several times, reporters asked Biden if he was okay.

Canadians 18+ should be offered COVID-19 booster 6 months after 2nd shot: NACI

  Canadians 18+ should be offered COVID-19 booster 6 months after 2nd shot: NACI The decision comes after the Canadian government requested NACI to quickly provide the latest directives on booster use in light of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.The committee is also recommending that booster shots of an mRNA vaccine be offered to adults ages 18 to 49 at least six months after their second dose.

“I’m okay. I have a test every day, a COVID test… What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who has a cold who likes to kiss his pop…it’s just a cold,” he said.

2:15 p.m.

Canada buying up to 1.5 million courses of oral antiviral drugs to fight COVID-19

Canada is buying up to 1.5 million courses of oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 in anticipation of them being approved by Health Canada, The Canadian Press reports.

The government has signed up for an initial one million courses of antiviral treatment from Pfizer, once Health Canada endorses their safety and efficacy. The company submitted a request for approval to the federal drug regulator earlier this week.

Canada has also purchased 500,000 courses of Merck’s oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19, with the option to purchase another 500,000 once Health Canada approves the drug.

“Access to effective, easy-to-use treatments is critical to reducing the severity of COVID infections and will help save lives,” Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said Friday.

A stock of antiviral medications will complement vaccines in fighting the pandemic, she said.

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“It’s just another tool in the toolbox, but an important one,” she said.

Some experts have hailed antiviral drugs as a game-changer in treating the disease since they are designed to block the enzyme essential for viral replication.

“If successful, oral antiviral therapies may help to reduce the severity or onset of illness in adults who contract, or have been exposed to, COVID-19. An oral treatment option may thus be an important tool to help address the ongoing global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pfizer Canada’s Kevin Mohamed said in a written statement Friday.

Merck’s clinical trial showed a 50 per cent reduced risk of hospitalization or death compared to placebo patients with mild or moderate COVID-19, for example.

The oral medications will also be more accessible than the ones that need to be given intravenously, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Friday.

Current antivirals are only available to people in hospitals, leaving them unavailable to people in remote regions or people with mild to moderate illness.

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Quebec will announce plan to offer boosters to people 50+ next week, Dubé says

Quebec is preparing to expand booster shots and will announce a timeline next week, Health Minister Christian Dubé said this afternoon.

This morning, a federal committee strongly recommended that third doses be administered to all Canadians over 50, as well as health care workers in direct contact with patients.

“It’s very, very good news,” Dubé said of that announcement.

He said Quebec expects recommendations from its own immunization committee “in the coming hours.”

Dubé said the province will take the weekend to finalize its plan.

“I hope to be able to announce something at the beginning of next week,” he said.

He was asked if boosters will be made available before the end of the year. Dubé said he is awaiting a recommendation from Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health.

A reporter asked Dubé about today’s case count for Quebec – the highest since April.

In response, Dubé focused on hospitalizations, which remain stable.

“That’s a good sign,” he said. “Cases are one thing but we have to arrive at Christmas with low hospitalizations.”

11:30 a.m.

Updated charts: Quebec cases, deaths

11:30 a.m.

Update on Quebec’s vaccination campaign

11:20 a.m.

Give boosters to people 50+, health care workers, federal committee says

The federal committee that provides national guidance on vaccinations, today updated its recommendations on COVID-19 booster shots in response to an urgent request from the federal government amid concerns about the Omicron variant.

Yukon reports two Omicron cases, expands booster program to those aged 18 and over

  Yukon reports two Omicron cases, expands booster program to those aged 18 and over WHITEHORSE — Two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been found in Yukon as the territory moves to expand its booster program to those aged 18 and over, says the acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Catherine Elliott said that the two people with the newest variant of concern have "mild illness" and are recovering at home. "Last week I mentioned it was only a matter of time before (Omicron) arrives in Yukon," she told a newsDr. Catherine Elliott said that the two people with the newest variant of concern have "mild illness" and are recovering at home.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said it “strongly recommends a booster dose of an authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be offered at least six months after completion of a primary COVID19 vaccine series” to the following groups:

  • People aged 50 years and older.
  • Adults living in long-term care homes for seniors or other congregate living settings that provide care for seniors.
  • Recipients of a viral vector vaccine series completed with only viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine).
  • Adults in or from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
  • All frontline healthcare workers with direct in-person contact with patients

In addition, the committee “also recommends that a booster dose of an authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to adults 18 to 49 years of age at least six months after completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccine series with consideration of jurisdictional and individual risks as outlined in the full NACI statement.”

Quebec has said it is waiting for guidance from its immunization committee.

Here’s a summary of NACI’s recommendations:

11:05 a.m.

Quebec reports 2 deaths, 1,355 new cases – most since April

Quebec has recorded 1,355 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.

That’s the highest one-day case count since April.

With children age five to 11 now eligible, the rate of vaccination is rising. Today’s total is the highest since early September.

Two new deaths were reported today.

Some other key statistics from Quebec’s latest COVID-19 update:

  • Montreal Island: 394 cases, zero deaths.
  • Net increase in hospitalizations: 3, for total of 230 (24 entered hospital, 21 discharged).
  • Net increase in intensive care patients: 4, for total of 57 (7 entered ICUs, 3 discharged).
  • 27,893 vaccine doses administered over previous 24 hours.
  • 37,103 tests conducted Wednesday.
  • Positivity rate: 4 per cent.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 451 868 cases and 11,585 deaths linked to COVID-19.

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10:45 a.m.

Federal committee recommends boosters for people over 50

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization now strongly recommends booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for people over the age of 50, The Canadian Press is reporting.

The advisory group has also strengthened its recommendation for several other groups, and now strongly suggests boosters for people who received a full series of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine, those in or from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and front-line health workers.

The new recommendations come after an urgent request from the federal government on the role of COVID-19 vaccine boosters in fighting the new Omicron variant.

The new variant came to light late last week and has sparked tougher border measures around the world as the World Health Organization warns the high number of mutations could signal that it is more transmissible than previous strains.

9:50 a.m.

Trudeau answers children’s pandemic questions as Canada ramps up vaccination of kids 5-11

9:30 a.m.

Federal committee to answer urgent plea for COVID-19 booster directives in face of Omicron

From The Canadian Press:

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is set to release new guidance this morning on the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters as public health faces down the threat of the Omicron variant.

The new variant came to light late last week and has sparked tougher border measures around the world as the World Health Organization warns the high number of mutations could signal that it is more transmissible than previous strains.

The government issued an urgent request to the advisory committee for new directives on the eligibility criteria for boosters to protect Canadians against the new version of the virus.

“We know that Canadians are asking increasingly about whether they should receive boosters, and that question is obviously of greater importance now with the new variant,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Tuesday.

“We are explicitly asking NACI to come up quickly with a revised view on where and how and to whom these boosters should be administered.”

It was at the same press conference that ministers announced a series of strict new testing and isolation measures for travellers coming into Canada as part of an effort to make sure no one unwittingly imports a case of the new variant to Canada. The government has also barred foreign nationals who recently transited through 10 African countries from entering.

Still, cases of Omicron have already cropped up across the country. Though most involve recent travel, one case, reported in Alberta, involved household transmission.

On Nov. 19, the advisory committee suggested there is no evidence to date of the waning of protection against severe disease from COVID-19 in the general fully-vaccinated population.

The emerging evidence suggests that while the vaccine becomes less effective at preventing infection over time, protection against severe illness and death appears to be more durable.

The advisory committee has strongly recommended boosters for people who are immunocompromised, live in long-term care centres and people over the age of 80.

9:25 a.m.

With holidays approaching, is Quebec set for a repeat of last year?

A year ago this week, Premier François Legault called a news conference to tell Quebecers he had some bad news: despite earlier promises that holiday gatherings would be allowed, he now had to call them off.

A year later, Legault has once again dangled the idea of loosening pandemic measures around the holidays, saying he would like to allow larger gatherings if public health will allow it. But with cases rising across the province, and hospitalizations trending upward, are Quebecers set for a repeat of last December?

Read our full story, by Jesse Feith.

9:20 a.m.

Quebec’s unemployment rate now back at pre-pandemic level, Statistics Canada says

After falling in November, Quebec’s unemployment rate is back at pre-pandemic levels, Statistics Canada said today in its monthly look at the labour market.

“Following an increase in September and little change in October, employment in Quebec rose by 46,000 (a 1.1 per cent increase) in November,” the national agency said.

“The unemployment rate fell 1.1 percentage points to 4.5 per cent, matching the pre-pandemic rate of February 2020. The gain in employment was all in part-time work and was spread across manufacturing and a number of industries in the services-producing sector.”

As for the Montreal census metropolitan area, in November it posted its “first notable increase in employment since June 2021, Statistics Canada said.”

A total of 56,000 jobs were added, a 2.5 per cent increase.

Montreal’s unemployment rate fell from 6.4 per cent in October to 4.8% in November. That’s on par with the rate of 4.9 per cent in February 2020.

Here’s a look at the national picture, by the Bloomberg news agency:

Canada’s labour market blew past expectations in November as the end of income support programs helped fuel new hiring.

Employment rose 153,700 last month, Statistics Canada reported this morning. That’s more than quadruple the 37,500 gain economists were predicting, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

The numbers show how close the nation’s economy is to full employment at a time when businesses are raising worries about labour shortages and policymakers are considering ways to cool the recovery down.

The unemployment rate fell to 6 per cent — very near pre-pandemic levels — from 6.7 per cent in October. Employment is now 186,000 jobs beyond where it was in February 2020. Hours worked rose 0.7 per cent, fully recouping COVID losses for the first time.

November’s gains reflect large numbers of people exiting unemployment ranks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government terminated its key support program for individuals in October. Unemployment levels fell by 122,000 last month, versus 56,200 in October. Much of that decline were people who were out of a job for 52 weeks or more.

November’s report marks the sixth straight month of job gains and will cement expectations that interest rates are poised to increase. Markets are pricing in five Bank of Canada interest rate hikes next year.

The gains were nearly evenly split between part-time and full-time, with growth led by the private sector. The services sector accounted for a majority of new positions, led by health care, retail trade and professional services. Manufacturing was responsible for all the job gains in the goods-producing sector.

9:20 a.m.

Legault could lift shroud of cabinet secrecy on COVID-19 response, expert says

Quebec Premier François Legault could, if he wished, lift the veil of cabinet secrecy that covers how the government’s crisis management council dealt with the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a constitutional law expert says.

“The ball is in his court,” said professor Patrick Taillon of Laval University, after Québec Solidaire MNA Vincent Marissal called on Thursday for that secrecy to be lifted.

Read our full story.

9:15 a.m.

Among provinces, Quebec has highest per-capita case count

Here’s the rate of case growth per 100,000 people over the past seven days, via the federal government’s latest epidemiological update .

  COVID updates, Dec. 3: Quebec will announce booster timeline for people 50+ next week, Dubé says
9:15 a.m.

A guide to Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccine passport

Quebec’s vaccine passport is mandatory for people 13 and older who want to access services and activities deemed non-essential by the provincial government, including bars, restaurants, gyms, festivals and sporting events.

Quebecers can use a smartphone app to prove their vaccination status or simply carry their QR code on paper.

The app is available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play .

We have published two guides to the passports – one looks at how to download and set up the app , and another answers key questions about the system, including how, when and why.

You can find more information on the Quebec government’s website – one page has details on how the system works, and another has a list of the places where a vaccine passport will be required .

 A test scan of a vaccine passport is shown at an Econofitness gym in Laval on Aug. 17, 2021. © Christinne Muschi A test scan of a vaccine passport is shown at an Econofitness gym in Laval on Aug. 17, 2021.
9:15 a.m.

A guide to COVID-19 vaccinations in Quebec

Local health authorities have set up mass vaccination sites across Montreal.

You can book appointments via the Clic Santé website or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.

Quebecers can also visit walk-in AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccine clinics .

Here are the nuts and bolts of getting vaccinated , by Katherine Wilton. Her guide includes the age groups targeted, how to book appointments, and addresses of vaccination centres.

9:15 a.m.

Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec

We are regularly updating our list of what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec, including information on the curfew and other lockdown measures.

You can read it here.

9:15 a.m.

Here’s where Montrealers can get tested today

Montrealers can be screened at test centres across the island.

For other parts of Quebec, check out this page on the Quebec government’s site .

8:30 a.m.

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ariga@postmedia.com

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