A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada


Published December 13, 2021 at 4:42 pm

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

— Canada’s chief public health officer says Canada is expecting a potentially massive surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, driven by the new Omicron variant already spreading through communities. While COVID-19 could be with us for many years to come, Dr. Theresa Tam is optimistic the pandemic could end in the foreseeable future. She foresees a “bumpy ride” this winter, but says Canadians can get through it with increased vaccination, proper testing, public health measures and better treatments for the virus. 

— An eastern Ontario city is limiting gatherings to a maximum of five people in response to in-community spread of the Omicron variant. The medical officer of health for the Kingston, Ont., area says the new restriction is effective through to Dec. 20. Dr. Piotr Oglaza is also placing new restrictions on restaurants  — they must be closed to indoor dining between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., not sell or serve alcohol after 9 p.m., ensure all patrons are seated when served, seat no more than four people at a table, and not allow dancing, singing or live music. 

— Technical issues left some Ontarians eager for COVID-19 boosters unable to book shots under expanded eligibility Monday, amid a fast-rising wave of Omicron infections. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the “intermittent technical issue” with the provincial booking portal that came up amid “high volumes of demand” was resolved as of 12:45 p.m., nearly five hours after the expanded bookings opened. The province’s expert pandemic advisers estimate the new Omicron variant now makes up 21 per cent of Ontario’s new cases, just weeks after the first cases were detected. Cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant are doubling every three days, the group said.

— Premier François Legault says Quebec still plans to relax restrictions on private gatherings before Christmas, despite an increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections in the province. Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Legault said that the number of hospitalizations linked to the novel coronavirus is more important to watch than the number of new infections and that while he expects the number of people in hospital due to the disease to increase, hospitalization rates in Quebec remain below those in the United States and parts of Europe.

— The federal government is extending, and slightly expanding, a travel exemption for Canadians trying to return home from South Africa. Earlier this month, the government lifted a requirement for Canadian travellers from South Africa to have a negative COVID-19 molecular test result in a third country before coming to Canada. An update on the federal government’s website says the exemption will remain in place until at least Jan. 7. 

— Several universities are adjusting their plans for end-of-semester exams in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The University of Victoria says it will not be holding any further in-person exams this month. The school says its instructors have been asked to offer alternative exams online or in another format. Queen’s University in eastern Ontario says exams will be changed to an “alternative delivery format” if possible, and those that must be done in person will be postponed until the new year.

— Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo says he hasn’t decided if he will compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He has been named to Canada’s provisional Olympic team, along with forwards Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. Speaking before the Golden Knights’ game Sunday night against Minnesota, Pietrangelo said he is waiting until he gets more information before making his choice.

— Thursday’s NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and Chicago has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Bulls. The NBA announced Monday that the Bulls will have at least their next two games postponed, including the game at Toronto and a home game Tuesday against Detroit. The league says 10 Bulls players and additional staff members are currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

— The NHL has postponed the Calgary Flames’ next three games after six players and a staff member entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol over a 24-hour period. The Flames announced Monday morning that forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka and defencemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov were in the protocol. Postponed games include Monday night’s game at Chicago, Tuesday’s game at Nashville and Thursday’s home game against Toronto.

— The Manitoba government is reporting 152 new COVID-19 cases as some doctors are calling for military help in intensive care units. Health officials are reporting a total of 478 new cases and eight deaths since Friday, while the five-day test-positivity rate stands at 5.7 per cent. The province says 142 people are in hospital with COVID-19, 34 of whom are in intensive care. A group of 10 physicians, including doctors in critical care and rheumatology, have written to the province to ask that the military be called in. 

— Health officials in New Brunswick are confirming the first cases of the Omicron variant in the province. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are two cases in the Miramichi region and one in the Moncton area. Russell reported 100 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today along with two more COVID-19 related deaths. 

— Nova Scotia officials are reporting the first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the province and announcing a return of some gathering and physical distancing rules. Public health officials say the national microbiology lab has confirmed that 40 previously reported COVID-19 cases in the province involved the Omicron variant. Informal gatherings will be restricted indoor and outdoor to 20 people from the same household or consistent social group. In addition, limits of 50 per cent of capacity to a maximum of 150 people indoors and 250 people outdoors will apply to regular faith services, weddings, funerals as well as sports and cultural events.

— Newfoundland and Labrador health officials have identified 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the province since Friday. A news release says nine cases are linked to travel or to previously known infections, while the sources of six cases remain under investigation. Health officials also say that all residents aged 18 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot six months after receiving their second dose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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