Canada’s COVID-19 cases skyrocketed last week as the Omicron version rapidly spread across the country, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam said on Friday.
Tam said Canada reported an average of 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week – a 45 percent increase from the week before.
“We must continue to do what we know has worked, but do it with greater speed, alertness and perseverance, incorporating all the improvements that have been achieved over the past two years,” he told reporters.
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Beyond COVID cases alone, Canada has also tracked an increase in Omicron type cases. Tam confirmed that 350 cases of the new strain have been identified in 11 provinces and territories collectively. An increasing number of these cases are not linked to travel, she warned, meaning “community transmission has been established in many areas of the country.”
“Cases of Omicron have been reported in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people as well as already infected people,” Tam said.
“However, it is important to emphasize that a thorough vaccination and then receiving a booster, whether Pfizer or Moderna, is expected to provide an appropriate level of protection against infection and potentially strong protection against serious disease.”
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As of Thursday, there were more than 43,000 active COVID cases across Canada. The federal government’s most recent hospitalization figures are from Monday, when at least 1,000 people were admitted to Canadian hospitals with COVID-19, including 453 in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 229 on respirators .
On Thursday, 19 people died of COVID-19 in Canada.
While spikes in infections are being seen across the country, including Manitoba and New Brunswick, Canada’s largest provinces are seeing some of the biggest increases in cases. Here’s the latest:
Ontario accounts for a significant portion of the country’s COVID-19 cases – especially when it comes to the new Omicron variant. The number of cases reported in the province on Thursday increased by 29 percent from the day before.
Total Active Cases: 17,081*
Omicron Cases: 190
admitted to hospital: 358, 157 of whom are in ICU
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Ontario on Wednesday reintroduced capacity limits for some indoor venues, capping capacity at 50 percent for places holding 1,000 or more people. Those rules go into effect on Saturday at 12:01 p.m. ET.
On Friday afternoon, the government announced even tighter restrictions that will go into effect Sunday at 12:01 p.m. ET.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the indoor social gathering limit would be reduced from 25 people to 10, while the outdoor capacity would be reduced from 100 to 25. Consumption of food and drink will be restricted in playgrounds, cinemas and other large places.
Ford also imposed a 50 percent capacity limit on all bars and restaurants, as well as rules for dancing and closing at 11 a.m. ET.
, Reported in last 14 days
British Columbia is another province grappling with a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, the province reported 584 new cases – the highest number since November 4.
Total Active Cases: 3,878
Omicron Cases: 135
admitted to hospital: 184, with 70 in critical care
The province will be following in Ontario’s footsteps as of Monday, when they are bringing in a nearly 50 percent capacity limit for places holding 1,000 or more people. The BC government also announced on Friday that no amateur sporting tournaments could be held over the Christmas period, and canceled all New Year’s Eve parties.
The health ministry also said that indoor gatherings, including rental or vacation properties, are being limited to one household, plus 10 guests, and everyone should be vaccinated.
The BC Vaccine Card program must be used at all events, and people will not be allowed to move between tables in restaurants.
Alberta is seeing an increasing number of patients with the Omicron strain of Kovid-19. The number of patients with the variant doubled from 60 on Wednesday to less than 120 cases on Thursday.
Total Active Cases: 4,212
Omicron Cases: 119
admitted to hospital: 352, with 70 in intensive care
Unlike other provinces, which have been tightening restrictions in recent days, Alberta this week moved to loosen its COVID public safety measures. The province capped the number of people who could gather indoors at 10, but did not limit the number of households who could attend those gatherings.
In addition, children under the age of 17 do not count in the 10-person limit, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday.
Quebec rivals Ontario for the most COVID-19 cases in the country. The province is also seeing a surge in new variant cases, with hundreds of estimated Omicron cases awaiting final confirmation.
Total Active Cases: 14,245*
Omicron Cases: 13 Confirmed, 309 Estimated
admitted to hospital: 312, with 62 in intensive care
In response to skyrocketing cases, Quebec announced a number of new restrictions on Thursday. Stores, bars, restaurants, amphitheatres, movie theaters and gyms are going to be limited to 50 percent capacity by Monday. With orders not exceeding 250 people, the capacity of places of worship will also be halved.
Vaccine passports will also be required in churches and other places of worship going forward. Only funerals and weddings, which are attended by up to 25 people, can be held without vaccine passport requirements.
High-risk activities such as office Christmas parties, karaoke and dancing will be banned from December 20. In addition, indoor private gatherings will be limited to 10 people, down from the 20 people previously announced for the holidays.
*Reported in the last seven days
— With files from the Canadian Press
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