Justin Trudeau, health minister to address Canadians on Omicron wave – National


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address Canadians on Wednesday as the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to impact the country.

Trudeau will be joined by Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos at an 11:30 a.m. ET news conference in Ottawa. Globalnews.ca will live stream the update.

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Omicron COVID-19 variant is infectious for up to 10 days, Tam says

Trudeau’s update comes as the Omicron wave appears to be peaking in some provinces, while others are preparing for continued surges.

Saskatchewan health officials are bracing for an influx of COVID-19 hospitalizations and workers’ absences until mid-February, while Alberta is seeing hospitalization rates rise to levels not seen since mid-October.

In Prince Edward Island, rising infections and hospitalizations have forced the government to limit gathering sizes and shut down gyms and indoor dining at restaurants until at least the end of January.

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Meanwhile, in Ontario and Quebec, officials say the daily rate of hospitalizations appears to be decreasing slightly, although both health-care systems remain under severe strain. As of Tuesday, there were 3,417 COVID-19 patients in Quebec hospitals, while Ontario had 4,183, including 580 people in intensive care.

In British Columbia, 854 COVID-19 patients were in hospital as of Tuesday. The province has given the go-ahead for gyms and other fitness facilities to reopen starting Thursday.

‘Several weeks of very intense activity expected to come’

Last week, Canada’s top doctor warned the country was in for several “intense” weeks of COVID-19 activity, with modelling showing the Omicron wave could peak this month with 170,000 cases and 2,000 new hospital admissions daily.

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“While Canada could see a sharp peak and decline in cases in the coming weeks, given disease activity far exceeding previous peaks, even the downside of this curve will be considerable,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

“With several weeks of very intense activity expected to come, we need to do our best now to limit the size and impact of the Omicron surge in order to maintain the health system and critical functions of society.”

Canada’s expected COVID-19 peak is similar to what some other countries are experiencing, but no country is in the clear yet, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday.

“For many countries, the next few weeks remain really critical for health workers and health systems,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.

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“I urge everyone to do their best to reduce risk of infection so that you can help take pressure off the system.”

Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 treatment approved in Canada

Earlier this week, Canada authorized Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 treatment for use in the fight against the pandemic.

A milestone moment, Paxlovid received Health Canada approval and is now the first oral COVID-19 treatment that can be taken by Canadians at home.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada approves Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill'

Health Canada approves Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill

Health Canada approves Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill

Paxlovid can be given to adults 18 and older who are positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild or moderate illness, and who are at high risk of becoming more seriously ill, Health Canada said.

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The treatment, which has to be prescribed, involves taking three pills of two different drugs, twice a day, for five days. It should be started after a positive COVID-19 test and within five days from the onset of symptoms.

Canada has an agreement with Pfizer for one million courses of Paxlovid, with an option to buy 500,000 more. So far, the country has received 30,400 treatment courses, with 120,000 more expected to be delivered between January and March.

Federal officials are working to firm up a delivery schedule, and provinces and territories will manage distribution, officials said Monday.

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Pfizer’s COVID pill is in short supply. Should unvaccinated be prioritized?

Until more Paxlovid pills make it into Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada has offered suggestions about how to best use or triage the current supply.

It currently recommends prioritizing severely immune-compromised patients, people over 80 who don’t have all their vaccines, and people over 60 living in remote and rural locations, long-term care homes and First Nations.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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