It made sense given the recent trend of new COVID-19 cases, not to mention the fact that there aren’t any rapid tests to be had and we’re now less than a week away from schools re-opening, but Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health was supposed to give a press conference today. Despite the growing cases, and the growing questions, the presser was delayed as Ontarians waits at least another day for pandemic insights.
As shown below, the Government of Ontario sent notice Tuesday morning that Dr. Kieran Moore would be doing a press availability about contact management and testing guidance at 1:30 pm. Shortly before noon though, the press conference was “postponed” with no alternative date and time posted.
CP24 reached out to the Ministry of Health to enquire about the delay, and the blame was put on new guidance released by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control today advising that quarantine times for people with Omicron can be cut from 10 days to five.
“In light of the recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on shortening the recommended isolation and quarantine period, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Public Health Ontario are evaluating this guidance against Ontario-specific evidence,” said Ministry of Health spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene.“Dr. Moore will provide an update later this week.”
In lieu of a new general direction for the pandemic, the Government of Ontario did announce new restrictions for long-term care homes today. Effective 12:01 am on Thursday December 30, general visitors will no longer be able to access long-term care homes although designated caregivers will still be able to enter. Also, day absences for residents for social purposes will also be paused.
“We know that long-term care residents face an increased risk of COVID-19. Given the high community infection rates we’re seeing with the Omicron variant, the time for more action is now,” said Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips in a statement. “In addition to the steps we’ve already taken, these new temporary measures will help keep residents safe and help critical staff remain on the job.”
The new guidance on long-term care homes comes a day after Wellington County announced that there was a new outbreak at Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home. One resident, a first for this Fergus home, has been infected, and one staff member tested positive for the virus; the resident has shown mild symptoms and is considered stable, and the staff member is isolating. Assuming that there are no other cases, the outbreak could be cancelled on January 4.
The nervousness about the current state of the pandemic, and what the numbers mean going forward, comes just a few days after Ontario peaked with the all-time high of 10,412 new daily cases on Christmas Day. On Tuesday, things have calmed down somewhat to 8,825 new cases after 9,418 on Monday, and 9,826 on Sunday. The new seven-day rolling average of cases has hit 8,318, which is an increase of over 5,000 cases since one week ago, while there are nearly 70,400 known active cases across the province.
On the plus side, the number of new deaths from COVID-19 remains relatively low with just seven on Tuesday, and the number of COVID patients in ICUs is now 187, which is an increase of about 30 from the week before Christmas.
Locally, there are now 1,367 active cases of COVID-19 with 124 new cases announced by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health on Tuesday. Over half of those current active cases, 738, are in Guelph alone and constitutes the highest number of COVID-19 cases there’s been in both Guelph and the WDG region at one time since the start of the pandemic. In fact, the region has added over 1,700 new cases of COVID in less than two weeks, but the number of total COVID fatalities remains at 128.
In terms of local vaccine distribution efforts, over 27,000 shots of a COVID-19 vaccine were given out last week, with 25,587 of them being third dose boosters. Almost 82 per cent of the eligible population, people age 5 and over, in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph are now fully vaccinated while 87.5 per cent have received one shot. In Guelph alone, 83.7 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, and 89.7 per cent have received one shot.