March 2, 2022

Ontario’s top doctor holds COVID-19 update with boosters open to those 50+ as of Dec. 13 | CBC News

Ontario reported 959 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while the province announced the expanded eligibility for vaccine booster shots to those aged 50 and older.

In a news release issued Thursday afternoon, the province announced that starting on Dec. 13 at 8 a.m. ET, people aged 50 and older will be able to schedule their booster through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling the provincial vaccine contact centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, and in select pharmacies and primary care settings.

Appointments will be booked for about six months after a person’s second dose, officials said.

As well, people receiving dialysis are now eligible to receive a third vaccine dose if it has been 56 days since their second dose. The province is also recommending re-vaccination post-transplantation for people who receive hematopoietic stem cell transplants, hematopoietic cell transplants, and recipients of CAR-T-cell therapy, due to the loss of immunity following therapy or transplant.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, is scheduled to detail the plan at a 2 p.m. ET news conference in Toronto. You’ll be able to watch it live in the player above.

Starting in January, the province says it will further expand eligibility for booster shots based on age and risk, with an interval of six to eight months from a second dose.

“If you are eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please book your appointment as soon as you can to provide yourself with an extra layer of protection,” Moore said in a statement.

“If you have not yet received the vaccine, please do so today. This includes vaccinations for children aged five to 11. Achieving the highest vaccination rates possible remains our best tool to protect us, reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and fight the significant surge of new cases and the new omicron variant.”

Those presently eligible for a booster in Ontario are people aged 70 and older, health-care workers or essential caregivers in congregate settings, people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of Janssen, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members.

When asked why boosters are being capped at people 50 and older right now, Moore said the province has “specific capacity” to provide immunizations in Ontario, but if officials don’t see that capacity being used, “we will then potentially open it up sooner to other age groups.”

5 cases of omicron variant discovered in Ontario

Earlier this week, Moore said the province was reviewing its strategy for third vaccine doses in light of the potentially dangerous new omicron variant of COVID-19.

Ontario confirmed its first cases of the variant over the weekend. Cases have also been confirmed in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Moore said Thursday that the province has so far found five cases of the variant, and “additional cases will be likely identified in the near future.”

Durham Region Health Department announced Thursday it has its first case of a person who has tested positive for the omicron variant.

In a news release, the agency said the person is a close contact of a returning traveller from southern Africa. The health agency also said it is monitoring other COVID-19 cases under investigation for the omicron variant based on travel history and is working with the province to monitor COVID-19 variants of concern.

Meanwhile, today’s case count marks a 28 per cent jump from the same time last week. The seven-day average of daily cases climbed to 851, its highest point since June 5 — when the province’s third wave was slowly tapering downward.

According to the latest estimate from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, cases are currently on track to double every three and a half weeks.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Moore said that in the last few weeks, Ontario has seen case counts increase, with flare-ups in some parts of the province. However, he said, hospital and ICU rates remain stable.

Also this morning, the Ministry of Health said it is in the process of updating how it reports vaccination data for the province. Until recently, the official statistics were calculated using population numbers from the 2011 census. A spokesperson said the ministry will now use figures from the 2020 census instead. 

Based on the revised figures, the ministry said that as of 8 p.m. Wednesday evening, about 87.2 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and older had had two doses of vaccine. The spokesperson did not indicate when figures for children aged five to 11 will begin to be included in daily updates.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial report:

Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 155, with 85 relying on a ventilator to breathe.

Tests completed in the previous 24 hours: 38,480, with a 2.9 per cent provincewide positivity rate.

Active cases: 6,932.

Deaths: Seven, pushing the official toll to 10,012.

Loan guarantees for non-profit long-term care development

Ontario also announced Thursday it is offering loan guarantees to help not-for-profit long-term care homes acquire development loans.

In a statement, the government said it’s setting aside $388 million in lending from Infrastructure Ontario, the Crown agency that manages infrastructure loans, for the program. It said approved borrowing costs for not-for-profit homes will also be reduced.

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said the program is part of a plan to speed up long-term care development in the province.

Ontario Long-Term Care Association CEO Donna Duncan says the loan commitment will help non-profit members overcome challenges in accessing funding and will help deliver more safe and modern homes in the province.

Source link