Canada grapples with Omicron variant, new restrictions applied
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Some provinces released updates regarding COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Monday, which highlighted an increase in the number of cases driven by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
Quebec’s health minister urged people to reduce contact after the province saw hospitalizations increase by more than 140 over a four-day period.
Christian Dube said on Twitter that 320 people were admitted to hospital while 179 were released between December 22 and 26. He noted that admissions were on the rise, with 93 people entering hospital on Boxing Day alone.
“We need to limit contact,” he said on the social media site.
Ontario has reported 9,418 new cases of COVID-19, which is slightly lower than the record numbers on Christmas Day.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said 480 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as the number of intensive care units rose to 176.
This brings the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 patients in intensive care to 168. Elliott added that not all hospitals report numbers on weekends.
Nova Scotia health officials, meanwhile, have reported an outbreak at the Halifax Infirmary site of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center.
They did not give details of the number of patients who tested positive, but said less than five were “impacted.”
COVID-19 cases have increased across Canada, driven by the Omicron variant.
Quebec has reported 8,231 cases, while Nova Scotia has recorded 581.
But as high as they are, healthcare analysts have said the actual number of cases is likely much higher.
Several provinces have asked people to get tested only if they have symptoms, as hospitals and centers have reached their testing limits.
Quebec, meanwhile, has warned that the increasing use of rapid tests is likely to affect the accuracy of the number of cases.
Manitoba said it will make take-out and self-administered rapid tests available at provincial testing sites.
Health and Elderly Care Minister Audrey Gordon said in a statement that most symptomatic and fully vaccinated people who visit testing sites will receive a rapid home test and will not be invited. to return for a PCR only if the result is positive.
The changes will be “phased in,” she said.
“Making at-home self-administered rapid tests available to symptomatic Manitobans seeking a COVID-19 test will help manage the potential demand for testing when the omicron variant of concern becomes more prominent,” said Gordon.
Manitoba health officials will provide an update on COVID-19 later Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 27, 2021.
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