Cases on the rise, school pushed back two days

·2 min read

COVID-19 will still be in news headlines heading into the New Year.

As Ontario recorded a record daily case count with more than 13,000, Provincially, there were 13,807 new cases reported in Ontario on Thursday. However, it is suspected many cases are underreported due to the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant and testing backlogs.

The count also continued to rise in Chatham-Kent. Locally, the active COVID-19 case count reached a record of 342, with 55 new cases and 18 listed as resolved.

According to the municipality’s medical officer of health, Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent has also recorded its 28th COVID-19 death.

Colby said of the 13 cases of the virus at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, 12 are unvaccinated.

“I think the most important thing is to get everybody vaccinated,” said Colby. “I know there is a political reluctance, but it’s not the restrictions that are the problem; it’s the virus that’s the problem.”

The increase in daily cases has also led to the resumption of schools being delayed by two days, and testing and isolation rules have been revamped. The isolation period for those with the virus will drop to five from 10 days following the onset of symptoms for those who are vaccinated, as well as children younger than 12 years old.

While a return to school was originally set to resume on Jan. 3, the holiday break will now be extended with a return to the classroom on Jan. 5.

According to Ontario’s top doctor Dr. Kieran Moore, during the extra two days, the province will be working on getting N95 masks to teachers and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters to classrooms all over the province as Ontario faces a massive wave of Omicron variant cases.

“The good news is, with this increase in cases, we have not seen a corresponding rapid increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” said Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

He also highlighted preliminary findings from Public Health Ontario suggesting Omicron is the first dominant variant to demonstrate a decline in disease severity.

“The risk of hospitalization or death was 54 percent lower for Omicron cases than Delta cases,” added Moore.

He noted publicly funded PCR testing will only be available for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or are at risk of severe illness.

“We must preserve those resources for those that need it the most,” Moore said of the PCR testing.

Additionally, the province also announced further capacity limits in large indoor venues with a cap of 1,000 spectators.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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