COVID-19: Provincial death toll hits 10,000; Restrictions on unvaccinated travellers begin Tuesday

Ontario is reporting 687 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and three deaths Tuesday as the province’s death toll reached 10,000.

COVID-19: Provincial death toll hits 10,000; Restrictions on unvaccinated travellers begin Tuesday
© Provided by Ottawa Citizen Restrictions on unvaccinated travellers on trains and planes begin Tuesday.

According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, those who are unvaccinated represent 23.6 per cent of Ontario’s total population and account for a majority of new cases.

Of the new cases reported Tuesday, 329 are in people who are not fully vaccinated and another 50 cases are in those whose vaccination status is unknown.

There are 266 patients in hospital, including 218 who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or unknown, and 48 patients who are fully vaccinated.

Another 153 patients are in intensive care, including 19 who are fully vaccinated.

Ontario administered 27,129 vaccine doses in the past 24-hour period and has now administered 22,978,037 total vaccine doses. That represents 89.9 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older with at least one dose and 86.4  per cent with both doses.

There were 94 new cases confirmed in Toronto, 71 in Windsor, 60 in Peel region and 57 in Simcoe-Muskoka.

In the capital region, another 18 cases were identified in Kingston after an alarming 47 infections were confirmed in the region on Monday.

There were seven new cases in the Eastern Ontario public health unit, six in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and no new cases reported in Renfrew County.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s science table of pandemic advisers say it may be more challenging for the health-care system to respond quickly to a surge in critically ill COVID-19 patients during the fourth wave.

A report on critical care capacity concluded that staffing shortages, worker burnout and the resumption of treatment for other health conditions may strain the health system in the event of a patient spike.

Their report also raised the issue that influenza, which was essentially absent during the last flu season, may severely sicken more people this winter and they may also need intensive care in hospitals.

The group says public health measures are necessary to keep COVID-19 and influenza cases low and say longer-term measures are needed to tackle staffing issues.

Latest COVID-19 news from Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health is reporting 19 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Tuesday. The city has now seen 31,988 total cases and 618 deaths since the outset of the pandemic.

There are 321 active cases in Ottawa, down from 347 active cases on Monday, and one patient has been released from hospital in the past 24 hours. There are now 10 patients in hospital and one remains in critical care in ICU.

The virus reproduction rate, which measures the rate of community spread, dipped slightly to a 1.07 weekly average R(t) rating.

There have been 284 cases in the past seven days at a rate of 26.9 cases per 100,000 population.

There were 1,017 tests conducted on Monday with a 1.48 per cent positivity rate. Ottawa’s weekly average positivity rate is 1.8 per cent.

No new outbreaks were reported Tuesday as there are open outbreaks at six health-care institutions, 20 schools or child-care centres, and one ongoing community outbreak.

There are at least four confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ottawa, according to medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches, with two of those cases recently added to the OPH database.

Another 12 variant cases have been detected in the past 30 days with an “inconclusive” mutation.

The confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ottawa have so far been detected through “returned traveler testing, screening viral testing and expedited whole genome sequencing at the National Microbiology Laboratory,” according to OPH officials.

Researchers with CHEO and the University of Ottawa are now working to update the current wastewater monitoring system to include detection for the viral signal associated with the Omicron variant. Researchers have already adapted the wastewater monitoring project to include the capability to detect variants.

“Wastewater surveillance continues to be good early indicator for community COVID-19 activity in Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health welcomes news from our wastewater surveillance partners that tests are being developed to directly identify the Omicron variant in sewage,” OPH officials said in an email Tuesday.

“There is a lot to learn about this new variant and it is important to have various surveillance strategies available.”

There have been 1,160 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Ottawa, including 291 in the last 30 days. That variant has accounted for nine per cent of all variant cases in Ottawa and has been linked to nine local deaths.

With vaccination appointments now available for children aged 5 to 11, many Ontario parents are taking to social media to share their stories of young ones lining up to get their shots, including some kids who are already facing unimaginable health challenges.

“She’s 6. She has leukemia and had her Covid vaccine this weekend,” reads one tweet from a local mom, with the user name @millenialmaman.

“She has done many hard things for herself this year, but she wanted to do much more for all of your children and family too. My girl is amazing.”

Thousands of Twitter users have liked or retweeted the message

She’s 6. She has leukemia and had her Covid vaccine this weekend. She has done many hard things for herself this year, but she wanted to do much more for all of your children and family too. My girl is amazing… #Ottawa #ottnews #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/Wb3UaVWWdI

— cj (@millennialmaman) November 29, 2021

Meanwhile, CTV Ottawa’s weekend anchor Stefan Keyes remains stranded in South Africa after testing positive for COVID-19.

Keyes was in the country last week for a wedding and presumes he has been infected by the Omicron variant of the virus. He said his symptoms have so far not been serious.

He said everyone who was at the wedding, including himself, is in isolation. He’s been asked to isolate for at least 10 days in Cape Town.

“The longer we stay here, the harder it (will) be to get home,” he told CTV News.

“Upon arrival into Canada, I’ll be asked to isolate again. Do the math, at least probably 24 days to a month that I could be away.”

Latest COVID-19 news nationally

Unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 won’t be able to board a plane or train in Canada beginning Tuesday, and a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as a substitute for most people.

The policy came into effect on Oct. 30, but the federal government allowed a short transition period for unvaccinated travellers who could board as long as they provided a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before their trip.

The stringent new requirement comes into effect as Canada reacts to the emergence of the new, highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The discovery of the new variant has prompted border closures and heavier screening in Canada and abroad over fears it could prove more transmissible.

The risk related to the Omicron variant is very high, according to the World Health Organization, but there is still a lot public health officials and scientists do not know about it.

While anyone coming into Canada or boarding a plane or train inside the country must be vaccinated, there are currently no quarantine measures in place except for people who have recently transited through southern Africa.

While many airlines have so far been doing random spot checks to ensure travellers are vaccinated, Air Canada and West Jet have confirmed they will ask for proof from everyone boarding in Canada as of today.

Other measures, like masks and health screenings, will still be mandatory.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government’s website states.

The government has issued warnings on social media that even Canadians and permanent residents abroad will not be able to return home without a full slate of approved vaccines.

There are some exceptions, including valid medical exemptions, travel to remote communities only accessible by plane, and those transiting through Canada en route to another destination.

Most people who qualify for an exemption will need a recent COVID-19 test.

The vaccine mandate was met with a positive reaction from Canada’s airline industry when it was first announced in October, though some companies worried about making the necessary preparations in time.

Since then the federal government announced a standardized proof-of-vaccination document, which has been distributed by provinces and territories for domestic and international travel.

Latest COVID-19 numbers from Quebec

Quebec reported 784 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths as of Tuesday.

The number of patients in intensive care units jumped by six — the biggest one-day increase since mid-September.

Quebec has more than 50 people in ICUs for the first time in three weeks.

The province’s seven-day rolling average of new cases is now 915 — the highest since early May.

The were 19,732 vaccine doses administered over previous 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 448,171 cases and 11,579 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Related

  • ‘Consequences may be severe’: Escaping variants, virulence and other questions about Omicron
  • Two more cases of new variant confirmed in Ottawa, as WHO warns of ‘very high risk’

-with files from The Canadian Press and Postmedia

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