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Canada COVID-19: Vaccinations cancelled for children under five due to booking glitch; Ontario reports 11,352 new cases; 446 in Ottawa

10:19  05 january  2022
10:19  05 january  2022 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his booster injection at an Ottawa pharmacy Tuesday © Provided by Ottawa Citizen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his booster injection at an Ottawa pharmacy Tuesday

Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday the next two to four weeks will be among the most difficult yet in the pandemic.

“Our seniors, our kids, our small businesses, restaurants, our students and our families. But we don’t have a lot of options to avoid some difficult decisions.”

Ottawa will be implementing new public health measures, Watson said, in line with Monday’s provincial announcement that Ontario will return to its phased “roadmap to reopening.”

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The city has “done its part remarkably well,” the mayor said, with 83 per cent of eligible residents (5-plus) now fully vaccinated and 90 per cent of those 12 and older fully vaccinated.

Booster shots have also ramped up in recent weeks, Watson said, with 39 per cent of eligible (18-plus) residents now with a third dose.

Thos rates are “well above” the provincial average, Watson said.

Watson said he remains “deeply concerned” for Ontario students following Monday’s decision to return to virtual learning and to delay a return to in-person schooling until Jan. 17.

“For many students, school is like a second home. Continuously opening and closing schools will have a negative impact on children, well beyond the pandemic,” Watson said.

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Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said the city is facing “a significant challenge” with Omicron case rates rising exponentially and more people bound to get sick in the coming weeks.

“We expect this will have a large impact on the workforce across the health-care sector, not only with access to hospital beds and services, (but) because health-care workers themselves will be infected,” Etches said.

“We are bracing for impact, and we know at this point the transmission of the Omicron variant cannot be completely stopped.”

Etches said the decision to delay the return to school “must have been very difficult to make.”

“We know that schools should be the last places to close for the health and wellbeing of children and youth,” she said.

Now that the decision has been made, Etches said OPH will work with local school boards to ensure children who need support can connect with the necessary resources.

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Earlier in the day, Ottawa Public Health told Ottawa parents of four-year-olds they should not attend their vaccine appointments, and 17-year-olds should not expect to get a booster shot this week, even if it was already booked through the provincial system.

That applies to kids under five, but who were eligible for a vaccine appointment under provincial guidelines because they will turn five in 2022.

That same guidance also applies to 17-year-olds who turn 18 this year and have appointments booked for a booster shot.

Those appointments will not be filled, and OPH is asking those people not to attend their appointment.

“We are currently unable to vaccinate children under five years or provide booster doses for those under 18 years,” OPH announced via Twitter.

“Due to an issue with the provincial COVID-19 vaccine booking system, some appointments were able to be booked at our clinics, either online or through our phone lines (which also use the provincial booking system) for ineligible individuals.”

The agency said it was directed by provincial officials on Monday that OPH and Ontario’s other regional public health units are not to vaccinate residents under five or provide boosters to those under 18.

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“We are working with the province to find a solution for those who have already booked appointments,” OPH said. “We will follow up with those who may have been vaccinated prior to receiving this provincial direction.”

According to OPH, the province intends to resolve the issue with the vaccine booking system by Friday.

OPH reported 446 new confirmed cases and one death Tuesday.

There are 8,424 active cases in the city, with 26 patients in hospital and four in ICU.

There have been 6,630 confirmed cases in the past seven days at a weekly rate of 628.6 cases per 100,000 population.

Due to the new testing limitations, the accuracy of key indicators is not entirely clear.

The virus reproduction rate, or R(t) value, is currently listed at 0.94, indicating the spread of the virus is receding in the community, even as daily case counts show the opposite trend.

Ottawa’s average test positivity was at 36.3 per cent for the past week, and that indicator is likely to increase. There were 1,523 tests completed on Monday with a 41 per cent positivity rate, and of the 1,950 tests completed on New Year’s Day, half came back positive.

There have now been 45,941 total cases in Ottawa and 625 deaths.

There are three new outbreaks in health-care institutions, with 46 open outbreaks in health-care or congregate living settings, and 28 open outbreaks in child-care settings. There are no listed outbreaks in community settings.

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In response to the province’s announcement Monday, Ottawa will temporarily close its recreation and cultural facilities — including recreation complexes, community centres, arenas, swimming pools, theatres, galleries and museums — with the closures effective Wednesday and expected to be in effect for at least 21 days.

The temporary closures will not impact the operations for respite centres, vaccination clinics, COVID-19 assessment centres and municipal childcare centres.

Swimming for persons with disabilities with a medical note requiring water therapy will be scheduled at the Nepean Sportsplex and Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex.

A number of recreational and cultural programs will temporarily suspend operations, including:

  • All reserved recreation drop-in activities — including indoor skating, swimming (public and lane swims), cardio-weight rooms, sports activities — team play and training, and indoor fitness classes
  • Learn to swim programs
  • Inclusive recreation programs
  • Select cultural programs that operated by reservation only at Nepean Visual Arts Centre and Shenkman Arts Centre

City officials also said the start of its winter 2022 registered programs has been delayed.

Outdoor refrigerated rinks such as the Rink of Dreams at City Hall will continue with capacity limits based on the number of people who can maintain two-metre physical distancing. Capacity limits will be posted on-site.

Other outdoor community rinks and high-traffic areas at sledding hills and trails will continue with capacity restrictions of 25 people.

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Capacity at smaller rinks will be further reduced to allow proper physical distancing, officials said.

The Mooney’s Bay Ski Centre at Terry Fox Athletic Facility will continue to operate with restrictions.

Latest COVID-19 news in Ontario

Ontario is reporting 11,352 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 10 deaths as the province’s daily case rate continues on a sharp incline.

Tuesday’s total is the lowest daily tally since Dec. 28 as Ontario has seen a recent spike in daily case rates.

There are 1,290 patients in hospital and another 266 in intensive care, according to provincial data released Tuesday morning.

There were 2,480 cases identified in Toronto, 1,486 in Peel and 1,059 in York region.

As of Dec. 31, Ontario restricted access to PCR tests to high-risk individuals who are symptomatic and/or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, frontline workers, residents in high-risk settings and other vulnerable populations. As a result, the true number of infections is likely higher than what is reported.

Of Ontario’s new cases reported Tuesday, 1,647 involve people who are unvaccinated, while 445 people are partially vaccinated and 219 are unknown. There are 9,040 “breakthrough” cases in people who have been vaccinated with two doses.

There are 134,130 active cases in the province and another 7,519 cases were resolved in the past 24 hours.

Ontario administered more than 148,000 vaccine doses on Monday and has now administered 27,570,940 total vaccine doses, representing 87.3 per cent of the eligible (5-plus) population with at least one dose and 81.6 per cent with both doses.

In surrounding regions, the Eastern Ontario public health unit is reporting 136 new cases Tuesday, with another 90 case in the Hastings region, 102 in Kingston, 80 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and 117 in Renfrew County.

Ontario has now seen 816,450 total cases since the outset of the pandemic and the death toll is 10,239. There are now 677,081 cases that are considered resolved.

A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada

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Meanwhile, the province’s health system is preparing for drastic measures needed to deal with the rising toll of COVID-19 infections.

All non-urgent surgeries across the province will be paused starting Wednesday to free up space and staff as the Omicron variant is expected to sicken more people.

The medical vice-president of the agency overseeing the province’s hospital system says pressure is stemming from the large number of patients being hospitalized and staff absences.

Chris Simpson of Ontario Health says staff need to be redeployed to hospital wards dealing with shortages or to help admit people who are sick with COVID-19.

Simpson says fewer people are experiencing COVID pneumonia during the Omicron wave, but many are being hospitalized for short stays or with chronic illnesses worsened by a COVID-19 infection.

One Toronto-area hospital network declared a “Code Orange” this week due to a lack of resources, requiring patient transfers and other measures, and Simpson said that response will likely be seen elsewhere.

Latest COVID-19 news in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started his day with a booster shot at his local pharmacy.

Trudeau rolled up his sleeve and gave a thumbs-up for the cameras and assembled press in a near-mirror image of the PM’s prior vaccinations, when he was accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau in April, and again for his second dose in July.

“Go get vaccinated. Keep it up,” Trudeau said after the dose was administered.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada .
A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that while he supports measures to encourage vaccination, he needs more details before taking a stance on Quebec's controversial plan to tax people who refuse a COVID-19 shot. Trudeau applauded efforts in general by the provinces to encourage vaccination and emphasized his government's measures promoting vaccination against COVID-19, including making vaccination mandatory for air and train travel. On Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault said he plans to make the unvaccinated pay a "significant" financial penalty.

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