Tuesday, January 18, 2022

When will the Omicron restrictions be lifted? Your COVID-19 questions answered. CBC News

We are answering questions about the pandemic. Send your information to COVID@cbc.ca — we’ll respond as quickly as possible. We publish a selection of answers online and have some questions for experts at The National and CBC News Network.

Another surge of COVID-19 infections is gripping hospitals, and many Canadians have questions. Are people who are fully vaccinated being hospitalized with Omicron? When will the restrictions be lifted?

We spoke to doctors and epidemiologists to get some answers.

Are Vaccinated People Hospitalized With Omicron?

Yes, some people who have received two doses are being hospitalized with COVID-19, including Omicron, but that doesn’t mean the vaccines don’t provide protection against serious illness.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, explained this in an interview CBC News Network At the end of December.

look | Bogoch explains why hospitalizations are on the rise despite vaccinations:

am i contagious? Answers to questions on isolation period and testing

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains isolation recommendations, testing, and how weakened immunity is affecting hospitals. 6:44

He said Omicron takes away some of the immunity provided by vaccines, but that two doses do “a lot of the heavy lifting” in keeping people out of hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs).

More research is needed to know how protective booster doses are against serious consequences with Omicron.

National data shows that between December 14, 2020 and December 18, 2021, nearly 80 per cent of people who were hospitalized and 76 per cent of those who died of COVID-19 were not vaccinated. Given the number of people hospitalized based on immunization status, it is important to remember that the number of people vaccinated in Canada is many times greater than the number of people who are not vaccinated.

This graphic shows why it can be misleading to look at only the raw numbers of vaccinated and unvaccinated hospitalized COVID-19 patients:

Bogoch said the increasing number of hospitalizations “is the sad reality when you start to see … many, many more cases.” He noted that “a small percentage of a large number of people who are infected” end up as many people who need medical attention.

When will the restrictions be lifted?

A reader wrote to the CBC asking what percentage of the population needed booster shots to lift restrictions. But the two are not necessarily related.

The percentage of people getting booster shots is not a good measure of when the ban will end, Dr. Nelson Lee, interim director of the Epidemic Institute at the University of Toronto, said in an email to CBC News.

That’s because it takes a week or two for the shot to take effect, Lee said, and because the effectiveness of vaccines against infection with Omicron is “less than ideal.”

Gigi Gronwall, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University, agreed that boosters are not the golden ticket to exit the omicron wave.

“I don’t think promoting myself will end the pandemic, but it will reduce the consequences,” she said in an interview.

Lee suggested looking at hospitalization numbers to get an idea of ​​when it would be safe to lift restrictions. Last year when Ontario reopened gyms and lifted capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail stores, there were 202 patients with COVID-19-related illness in the ICU.

Are Canadian provinces unique in limiting testing for COVID-19?

Ontario And Quebec are not the only jurisdictions limiting access to PCR tests. israel is prescribed PCR test For those who are over 60 or have a weakened immune system, and other Israelis have to rely on rapid tests. England has also asked people Those who test positive on rapid tests to self-isolate instead of seeking PCR tests for confirmation.

Omicron has changed reality, Gronwall said, and some experts now believe that governments should only keep detailed accounts of how many people have had COVID-19 in certain settings, such as nursing homes, and for the rest of the population. Must only guess.

When will the Omicron restrictions be lifted? Your COVID-19 questions answered. CBC News
People wait outside a COVID-19 testing site on Tuesday in Montreal. (Ryan Ramiorz/The Canadian Press)

That could happen, “regardless of whether or not people think it’s a good idea,” Gronwall said, “just because of the speed of infection and the apparent inability of testing to keep up with it.”

The new version has been a challenge everywhere, Gronwall said. She said that even countries she had previously celebrated for stronger testing strategies, like the United Kingdom, are now struggling to keep up.

Is there any point in getting passport vaccines, because it is possible to catch Omicron even if you have been fully vaccinated?

“I think it depends on what the provinces and territories think about vaccine passports,” said Dr. Anthony Fong, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia. “Is this to make businesses safer and prevent disease transmission between customers and customers? If so, perhaps the need for vaccinations … will continue to make sense.”

The definition of vaccination as a whole has to be reconsidered now because Omicron is here, Lee said. Vaccine passports would require a third dose, he said, given that unvaccinated are still at highest risk of the most serious infections.

Quebec has already said This will require three doses for its vaccine passport system.

How can you prove your COVID status to an employer without investigation?

“It’s a really tough question for the employee,” Fong said. “And I would approach this question by putting a really high burden on employers for not requiring proof of positive tests.”

He said that even in provinces that do not have limited eligibility for PCR tests, such as BC, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access tests.

When will the Omicron restrictions be lifted? Your COVID-19 questions answered. CBC News
Dr. Elaine Ma gives a dose of vaccine during a campaign through the COVID-19 clinic at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario on Sunday. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

“And as the disease burden increases in the population, it becomes more and more likely that people who have symptoms probably have COVID-19.”

Employers need to accept an employee’s self-reported symptoms as proof that they need to stay home, he said.

“Take it at face value. It is in the public interest for them to isolate at home.”

look | Doctors explain why negative rapid test results are not reliable:

When will the Omicron restrictions be lifted? Your COVID-19 questions answered. CBC News

COVID-19: What are the new symptoms?

Infectious disease experts Dr. Danielle Martin and Dr. Zain Chagla answer questions about COVID-19, including how to recognize and respond to new and evolving symptoms. 5:41

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