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COVID-19: Nearly 17,000 new cases in Ontario, 1,400-plus in Ottawa


The new figures bring the province’s total number of cases to 756,361, and its death toll to 10,194.

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  • CHEO announces staff redeployment to battle Omicron
  • The Ottawa Hospital indicates it may have to reschedule non-urgent surgeries

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COVID-19 continues its exponential march across the province, with Ontario reporting a record 16,713 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, as well as 15 new deaths.

The new figures bring the province’s total number of cases to 756,361, and its death toll to 10,194.

The province also reported 1,144 patients hospitalized with COVID-related conditions. According to PHO, 205 patients were in intensive care, 104 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, 195,809 vaccine doses were administered in the province in the 24 hours ending Thursday evening, for a province-wide total of 27,208,675. A total of 11,410,550 Ontario residents are fully vaccinated, including 3,392,882 who have received three doses.

The testing positivity rate was 30.5 per cent on Thursday, the highest it’s been since the pandemic’s start. A total of 67,301 tests were conducted Thursday.

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In a special statement released Friday, Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said that because of the limited availability of COVID-19 testing, case numbers “underestimate” the amount of COVID in the community.

She advised Ottawans to “treat possible COVID symptoms as if they are a COVID-19 infection” and to stay home if they or a member of their household is sick. Etches also urged residents to get their booster shots, kids to get their first and second vaccine doses, to self-screen for any symptoms and pause or “greatly limit” any indoor gatherings.

“Ottawa must focus on reducing transmission of COVID-19 to get to the other side of this Omicron surge with a more vaccinated, and more protected community. We have a lot of control when it comes to protecting each other, our loved ones and community to help get through this surge,” read her statement .

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Four health units in the province, including Ottawa’s, reported more than 1,000 new cases. Toronto confirmed 3,899, Peel had 1,639, Ottawa had 1,431 and York’s total increased by 1,391.

The new cases in Ottawa, according to Public Health Ontario, brought the city’s total to 41,840 since the pandemic’s start. Due to different data-collection times, those figures may not match those issued later in the day by Ottawa Public Health.

In other heath units in the area, Eastern Ontario reported 285 new cases, while Kingston had 287. Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District’s case count increased by 248, while Renfrew County added 86 new cases.

There are currently 98,822 active cases in the province.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in 40 long-term care homes across Ontario in the past day as positive cases continue to break daily records.

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There are now 98 homes in outbreak across the province, provincial data show. There are no residents with COVID-19 in 38 of those nursing homes.

The province deems it an outbreak if a home has at least one lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in either a resident or staff.

Note : As of Dec. 31, Ontario restricted access to PCR tests to high-risk individuals who are symptomatic and/or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, frontline workers, residents in high-risk settings and other vulnerable populations. As a result, the true number of infections is likely higher than what is reported.

Latest COVID-19 news from Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health reported 1,508 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 42,102 since the pandemic started, while the death toll held at 621.

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The new cases represent nearly a doubling of the previous day’s total, when 771 new cases were reported.

There are 7,166 active cases in Ottawa. Of those, 21 people are in hospital with COVID, three of them in intensive care.

Meanwhile, four new outbreaks were reported Friday, all in health-care settings. That brings the number of active outbreaks in Ottawa to 68: 27 in health-care institutions, 37 in school and child-care settings, and four in community settings.

The city’s seven-day infection rate, meanwhile, is 483.2 per 100,000 population as of Wednesday, while the seven-day positivity rate rose to 28.5 per cent, as of Thursday, up from 22.5 per cent the day before. The estimated seven-day reproduction rate, or R(t), was 1.17 as of Thursday, indicating that the virus’s spread is increasing.

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As of Thursday evening, more than two million vaccine doses have been administered in Ottawa, including 807,911 second doses, and 283,503 boosters. A total of 821,546 residents are fully vaccinated.

Seven youngsters and staff at Ottawa’s municipal child-care centres have recently tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases to 16.

Donna Gray, general manager of the city’s Community and Social Services Department, issued a memo to members of city council on Thursday evening, notifying them of the new cases.

Among children, two cases each were reported at Borden Farm and Elsie Stapleford child-care centres, while single cases were identified at the Huron Early Learning Centre and St. Luke’s Child Care Centre. One staff case was confirmed at Centre Éducatif Tournesol.

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Other child-care centres with active cases are Charmain Craven, Esther By and Foster Farm.

Four staff members and one client at Ottawa recreation facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, it was announced Friday.

Two of the cases involve the Bob McQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orléans, where a client took part in aquafit classes on Dec. 20 and 22. The other was an employee who last worked there on Dec. 21.

An employee who last worked at the CARDELREC Recreation Complex on Dec. 23, another who last worked at the Kanata Leisure Centre on Dec. 19, and one who last worked at the Canterbury Recreation Complex on Dec. 27, all additionally tested positive.

According to a memo sent to city council by Linda Tremblay, director of Ottawa’s Community Recreation, Culture and Sport Services, all five are self-isolating at home.

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The Ottawa 67’s announced Thursday that, due to new provincial restrictions, seating at the hockey club’s next three home games, scheduled for Jan. 14, 15 and 21 at TD Place, will be limited to 1,000 spectators. Priority will be given to season ticket holders, the club said.

Ticket holders for upcoming games will receive more information via email next week.

CHEO announced on Friday that, due to the rapid spread of the Omicrom variant, it is postponing non-urgent outpatient appointments for at least the first two weeks of January. The decision, the hospital noted in a statement, may additionally impact some surgeries and procedures that were previously scheduled.

“We need to immediately redeploy staff and medical staff to meet urgent and emergent care needs and offer essential pandemic response services including expanded vaccination, testing, screening, contact tracing and more,” the hospital noted.

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“CHEO is not yet admitting many children and youth with COVID-19, as is reported in other parts of the world – but our specialized pediatric services are in high demand. Our beds are full of kids with urgent and emergent needs and our Emergency Department wait times are quite long.”

The Ottawa Hospital indicated that it may have to reschedule non-urgent surgeries and procedures due to staffing challenges it has experienced during the current Omicron variant surge.

“Like many other hospitals, we too are dealing with staffing challenges,” it said in a largely encouraging 10-tweet message Friday. “We have been actively and successfully recruiting new staff throughout the pandemic, many are highly specialized and require extensive training.

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“Staffing and recruitment are a daily focus to ensure we can continue to provide access to our programs and services,” it added.

The hospital also tipped its cap to health-care workers and the sacrifices they have made, urging members of the public to support them and continue following pubic health guidelines.

“You have called them heroes, but they are also human and have endured so much to ensure that we can continue to provide essential health-care programs to our community.

“Rest assured, we are not back at square one and this is not March 2020… We have a vaccine that works and are confident that we will get through this the same way we have done this before. We can do it again. We are #StrongerTogether.”

Meanwhile, Queensway Carleton Hospital announced it was restricting visits to patients to try to control the spread of the virus. For the time being, visits will be restricted to essential care partners.

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-With files from The Canadian Press

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