A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada

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Published January 28, 2022 at 5:26 pm

A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada:

— The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending teenagers with underlying conditions or at high risk of COVID-19 exposure get a booster shot. The advice comes as more provincial health officers are transitioning to a position of learning to live with COVID-19 and loosening public health restrictions. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says children and adolescents are still at low risk of serious illness in general from COVID-19 but because of the high rate of infection due to Omicron more kids are being admitted to hospital.

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s isolating because one of his children tested positive for COVID-19. In an interview with The Canadian Press, he says he feels fine and has no symptoms. He says he took another test Friday morning and it was negative, as was a previous rapid test. He’s not saying which of his three children has tested positive or how they’re doing. Trudeau revealed in a tweet Thursday that he was going into isolation for five days after finding out Wednesday evening he’d been in contact with someone, whom he didn’t identify, who had tested positive.

— Ontario has reported the deaths of more than 1,000 people due to COVID-19 so far this month, a grim figure the province’s top doctor largely attributes to the previous, more virulent strain of the virus, though he admits the data is murky. The province has logged persistently high numbers of fatalities each day this month, despite the dominant Omicron variant of the virus typically causing milder illness and all but replacing the more severe Delta variant almost six weeks ago, while circulating among a well-vaccinated population. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said officials are trying to ascertain what factors are causing so many Ontarians to die, including whether Delta or Omicron or a combination of the two is responsible, but whole genome sequencing to determine variant type takes weeks. Essentially 100 per cent of outbreaks in the community are Omicron right now, Moore said, but roughly 10 per cent of hospital admissions are still “relevant to Delta.”

— Ontario is reporting 607 people in intensive care with COVID-19 and 3,535 hospitalized patients in total. That’s down from 3,645 people hospitalized with the illness on Thursday and up from 599 patients in ICU. There were 387 patients on ventilators due to the illness. The province reported 67 more deaths from the virus that happened over the last month.

— Nearly 50,000 elementary and high school students were absent from Quebec schools due to COVID-19 less than two weeks after in-person classes resumed. Quebec’s Education Department said Thursday evening that 49,852 students, 3.64 per cent of the total number in the province, were absent after testing positive or having a suspected case of the disease. It said 2,080 teachers, 1.53 per cent of the province’s total, are also absent due to the disease. The department said that as of Tuesday, 96 classes at public and private schools were being conducted remotely and two schools were completely or partially closed due to COVID-19.

— The Manitoba government is extending its COVID-19 public health orders for another week. The rules, which include a cap on public gatherings and limits on guests in private homes, were due to expire next Tuesday but will run until Feb. 8. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says hospitalization rates are stabilizing and the current pandemic wave may have peaked.

— Some restrictions on social gatherings in British Columbia could be gradually lifted next month. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that’s possible partly because 90 per cent of residents aged 12 and over have received two doses of a vaccine, though more people need to get a booster shot for longer-lasting protection. She says taking that step is necessary as new variants will surely emerge as immunity wanes and respiratory season in the fall brings an increased risk of transmission.

— Inuit in Nunavut who get a COVID-19 vaccine could end up with a brand new ride. A new program means Inuit living in each of the territory’s 25 communities have a chance to win a snowmobile for getting their shots. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the territory’s land claim body, is holding draws across Nunavut for vaccinated Inuit residents to win one of 25 machines.

— For the second year in a row, passenger traffic at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in 2021 was down 75 per cent from pre-pandemic levels. As a result, Atlantic Canada’s busiest airport continued to record significant financial losses, despite a spike in business last summer when COVID-19 infection rates dropped, vaccination rates rose and travel restrictions were temporarily lifted. More passengers were served during the month of August than January to July combined.

— Health officials announced that a man in his 60s from western Nova Scotia has died as a result of contracting COVID-19. Premier Tim Houston offered his condolences to the man’s family and friends. Meanwhile, officials confirmed that 10 more people had been admitted to hospital with the disease. As of Friday, there were 88 people in hospital who were admitted due to COVID-19 and were receiving specialized care, including 15 people in intensive care.

— Recoveries outpaced new cases of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island by a margin of almost two to one. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison reported 215 new cases of the virus and 417 new recoveries. There were 17 people in hospital with COVID-19 — unchanged from Thursday. Morrison said two people were in intensive care, and one other person was in hospital for another reason but has also tested positive for COVID-19.

— The number of Newfoundland and Labrador patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 has held steady at 20 since Tuesday, but ICU admissions have increased. Public health said in a release Friday there were eight COVID-19 patients in critical care, an increase from five on Tuesday. Officials reported 265 new confirmed cases since Thursday, though the figure does not include those who may have contracted the disease but do not qualify for a PCR test to confirm their infection.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said B.C. could lift restrictions on Feb. 21.

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