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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Planning to travel for the holidays or get together with family? Here’s what you should consider. Nation World News

The winter holiday season has arrived as Ontario is dealing with a new version of the novel coronavirus and a surge in new infections.

But unlike this time last year, when COVID-19 cases were on the rise and vaccine coverage was near zero, politicians and public health officials are not discouraging travel and holiday gatherings this time.

Still, although there may not be a reason to cancel your plans just yet, infectious disease experts say continued community spread and uncertainty around the emergence of the omicron strain mean people should exercise caution.

“People will have different risk tolerances and … there are many different things we can do to reduce risk,” said Dr. Suman Chakraborty, an infectious disease physician at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga.

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“Vaccination, of course, is the biggest. There is also masking, distancing, staying outside, improving ventilation.”

Dr Sumon Chakrabarti
Dr. Suman Chakraborty, an infectious disease physician in Mississauga, Ont., says people should do their own risk assessments when planning vacations. (CBC)

better form than last year

While Ontario is seeing a surge in cases – a seven-day average jumped 20 percent this week over last week – and new cases of the Omicron variant are being identified daily, the province is in much better shape than it was last year. Because 77 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated.

The number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 is much lower than in 2020, mainly because of vaccination, experts say, meaning there is little available capacity in the health care system.

“The risk of serious illness has become so small,” Chakraborty said.

“If you have been vaccinated, your chances of being hospitalized at this point are very small.”

In Ontario, the capacity limit for private gatherings, such as an indoor holiday party, is 25 people. The same is true for indoor public events.

There is no limit to private outdoor gatherings that can hold up to 100 people and events in places where people are required to show proof of vaccination. Places of worship have the option to check vaccination documents and proof of shed capacity and physical distancing rules.

Dr Anna Banerji Sept 3 2021
Anna Banerjee, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, encourages people to keep their holiday gatherings short to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. (CBC)

But Dr Anna Banerjee, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said just because Ontarians are allowed to gather with so many people, it doesn’t mean they should.

“If you’re going to have a gathering, try to make it a small, reasonable number of people,” Banerjee said.

“A small group of intimate friends or immediate family because we want to see those grandparents for the next year and so on — we don’t want anyone who is sick.”

Banerjee said it is safe to gather with small groups of vaccinated people. To improve ventilation in indoor spaces, she said hosts should consider purchasing HEPA air filtration equipment or, weather permitting, open windows to improve air flow.

He added that anyone who is eligible for a third dose of the vaccine should get a dose as soon as possible.

travel rules in flux

Experts say people traveling within Canada are more likely to experience a smoother journey than those heading to international destinations. That’s because travel restrictions and testing requirements have been in flux since news of the Omicron version emerged.

“If you haven’t made a booking [international] As of now, it may be better to do things locally,” Banerjee said.

Covid Travel 20211203
A passenger is seen at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic last Friday. The newly discovered B.1.1.1.529 coronavirus variant, now known as Omicron, has led to new travel tests and restrictions. (Nathan Dennett/The Canadian Press)

Following a previous announcement banning foreign travelers from some southern African countries, the federal government last week announced new testing requirements for those entering the country from outside Canada and the United States.

Air passengers will now be swabbed on arrival and will need to be quarantined till a negative result is obtained. This is in addition to the existing pre-departure requirement of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in Canada.

The new measures caused confusion and frustration with some Canadians – including Canada’s junior women’s field hockey team and others trying to go home for the holidays – when speaking about the cease-fire restrictions that they said were home. It is effectively impossible to return.

Over the weekend, the government changed travel rules for Canadians trying to return from South Africa, but criticism of the broader travel ban continues.

Dr Zain Chagla
Dr. Zayn Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont., says people planning to travel internationally may be hit by the travel restrictions that have flown since news of the Omron edition emerged. are in. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

The US government also announced That Canadians and other foreign visitors must now provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of departure, regardless of vaccination status, to enter the country by Monday.

Dr Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at St Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, said traveling within Canada is reasonable if people take the same precautions they take at home.

He said anyone planning to leave the country should keep in mind that they could be affected by the new restrictions.

Chagla said in an interview, “Buyer beware: If you plan to travel internationally, you may be left behind a lot of time in terms of being in quarantine or having additional testing requirements or getting COVID-19 while traveling. Give.” Nation World News Network.

“It’s such a dynamic situation that you have to be prepared that your trip may not go as planned, both leaving Canada or coming back.”

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