Sunday, December 19, 2021

And just like that holiday plans came crashing down

The ominous sounding Omicron variant of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic came to people's attention short weeks ago. Billed as a fast spreading virus that threatened to engulf the world in short order, infecting both vaccinated and un-vaccinated, governments around the world started shutting down travel to certain countries before they discovered that it was already vacationing in your local areas already. Growing exponentially and spreading through the air as aerosols, not just droplets spread with close contact, this was to be a game changer and the hammer came crashing down with new rules.  The University of Iowa's swiss cheese model for stopping Covid-19 diagram is shown at top.

On Friday, December 2021 Ontario Premier Doug Ford held a press conference to establish new public health and workplace safety measures which included limits on the numbers, or percentages of people allowed to gather, both indoor and outdoors. The rumours said it wasn't a matter of if you catch covid, it was when? And with large scale infections that might overwhelm hospitals and the healthcare system it was no time to hold off new rules, even though it was so close to the holidays and family plans were already in motion.

From the Premier's office; “Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”

"The latest modelling suggests that the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant could put additional strain on Ontario’s hospital capacity, making it critical to slow the spread as the government dramatically increases vaccine capacity and expands eligibility for booster doses. The province recently doubled its vaccination capacity and continues to ramp up further to get as many vaccines into arms as possible. Over 156,000 doses were administered on December 16, 2021 with capacity increased to 200,000 to 300,000 in the coming days."

Indoor capacity limits were established at 50 per cent, with social gatherings to be 10 or less while outdoor limits were reduced from 100 to 25. Unless you are holding a wedding, funeral, religious services, rites or ceremonies. Rules for serving food and drink along with operating hours were also adjusted. All new rules were to start on December 19, 2021.

“This was not an easy decision to make before the holidays, but the evidence is clear that further public health measures are required to slow the spread of Omicron and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we expand booster eligibility and continue our Team Ontario effort to get as many shots into arms as possible, I am urging every single person to get their vaccine if they haven’t already done so, and sign up for their booster shot as soon as they’re able.”

A positive note was that booster shots for everyone 18 plus was advanced from 6 months from your last vaccine to 3 months.

The number of cases have definitely shot up in mid to late December 2021.

Dec 15: 1,808
Dec 16: 2,421
Dec 17: 3,124
Dec 18: 3,301
Dec 19: 4,177
Dec 20: est 6,000. Actual 3,783. They say it is cyclical and always lower on Monday/Tuesday before it climbs again. Could also be problems getting tested. We will see....
Dec 21: 4,383
Dec 25: 10,412
Dec 31:
Estimated 10,000 cases a day beginning in January, 2022. Update - hit it on Christmas Day. Plus they say that the cases are under reported due to limitations in testing and backlogs. Update - by mid February 2022 we could hit a peak of 100k cases a day!

The government says that the cases in many countries are doubling every 2-4 days, with infection rates over 6 times that of the earlier Delta variant. Without major changes they expected cases in Ontario to exceed 10,000 a day in December. With new rules that will hopefully be pushed into 2022, or never come to fruition.

Lockdown and Covid fatigue and frustration is definitely a thing, especially since the Premier once said that this would all end in March 2022! Already the after affects include major planned events being cancelled, like the January Toronto Boat Show and smaller events like those held in curling clubs. The question that many people ask is how severe will be the infections from the new variant - like a cold, or more like the potential harsher Delta variant. Ontario has already seen over 25% increase in Covid hospitalization cases and ICU requirements over the past month.  At this point they don't really know and the older you are the less likely you want to take a chance with your health, or that of even older parents. So stay safe, get vaccinated and boosted, change over to N95 masks and avoid gatherings where ever possible. 

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