Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Friday December 31, 2021

Here are the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Friday, December 31, 2021:

  • There have been 739,648 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, an increase of 13,807 cases from the previous day (cases by vaccination status were not available). There have been 642,715 people recovered from the virus while 10,179 have died. The number of Ontario people tested is 21,178,944 of which 96,455 have pending results.
  • Canada’s coronavirus case total is 2,142,310. The country has 30,280 deaths from the virus – 14 in the Yukon, 12 in the Northwest Territories, four in Nunavut, 2,420 in British Columbia, 3,310 in Alberta, 955 in Saskatchewan, 1,387 in Manitoba, 10,179 in Ontario, 11,711 in Quebec, 159 in New Brunswick, 18 in Newfoundland & Labrador and 111 in Nova Scotia.
  • The Eastern Ontario Health Unit added 275 cases Thursday – 73 in Prescott-Russell, 87 in SD&G and 115 in Cornwall – to bring the regional total to 7,931 confirmed cases, of which 1,310 are active (190 more than Wednesday) and 6,487 are resolved (85 more than Wednesday). The number of deaths to date is 134. There are four people in hospital and one in the ICU (no changes from Wednesday). There are 12 institutional outbreaks (two more than Wednesday; six long-term care or group homes, three schools and three daycare centers). Testing increased 407 to 180,445. The breakdown of cases is: Prescott-Russell 3,002 cases (525 active), SD&G 1,923 cases (379 active), Cornwall 2,399 cases (394 active) and Akwesasne (ON/QC) 607 cases (12 active)(Akwesasne health department reported 13 new cases Thursday: 662 total cases, 39 active, 12 deaths to date).
  • The six EOHU long-term care outbreaks are: Foyer St. Jacques Nursing Home (Embrun), Woodland Villa (Long Sault), Centre d’Acceuil Roger Seguin (Clarence-Creek), Heritage Heights (Cornwall), Foyer St. Viateur Nursing Home (Limoges) and Heritage Lodge (Vankleek Hill).
  • The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit added 154 cases Thursday to bring the regional total to 3,397 cases, of which 760 are active (125 more than Wednesday) and 2,572 are recovered (29 more than Wednesday). The number of deaths to date is 65. There are six people in hospital (two more than Wednesday), two in the ICU and two a ventilator (no change in ICU/vent from Wednesday). There is one active institutional outbreak (Dec. 29, Bridlewood Manor). The community case breakdown is: Lanark County East 640 cases (128 active), Lanark County West 686 cases (130 active), Leeds-Grenville Central 608 cases (175 active), Leeds-Grenville East 671 cases (161 active), Leeds-Grenville West 527 cases (147 active) and Unknown/Out of Region 58 cases (19 active).
  • Vaccines: Ontario 27,012,866 (+197,280, last update Dec. 30); EOHU 386,451 (last update Dec. 30, +2,863 from previous update Dec. 29); LGL 158,587 individuals living in LGL with first doses, 149,988 with second doses, 47,903 with third doses. (last update Dec. 26, +771 first doses, +266 second doses, +17,075 third doses since previous update Dec. 19).
  • Students will be heading back to class a couple of days later than planned. Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore says students will be in class Wednesday, Jan. 5. That will given schools enough time for masking and other measures.
  • Moore also announced new testing rules that start today (Friday). Molecular (PCR) testing will be reserved for high-risk situations and settings. The government released a list of exactly who is eligible for PCR testing. For the rest of the public, a positive result from a rapid antigen test for others will be enough to confirm. If you do test positive, the isolation period for fully vaccinated people will be five days after you’re showing symptoms. That follows guidelines on isolation announced earlier by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the unvaccinated, it will still be 10 days isolation.
  • There’s been a change to capacity limits at places like theaters, arenas and event spaces. It will now be 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Give the vast number of cases driven by Omicron, if you test positive for COVID-19 in Ontario, it will be up to you to trace and inform your close contacts. The exception will be for high risk settings such as nursing homes.
  • Fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out to residents of Ontario long-term care and retirement homes and other congregate care settings. Those eligible for a fourth dose must be at least three months or 84 days past their third dose.
  • The federal government is spending $8.4 million to help set up self-isolation sites in Manitoba. The sites will help people isolate who have COVID-19 and live in crowded conditions. The locations will be in Winnipeg, Brandon, The Pas and Thompson among others. The Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program has spent over $100 million for locations in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C. as well.
  • Cornwall Transit returned to regular service on Thursday. It had been running on a modified schedule due to a staff shortage. Some employees had to isolate due to either COVID positivity or exposure.
  • On the same day Alberta recorded roughly 4,000 new COVID-19 infections, the province announced a delay to the start of back-to-school for kindergarten to Grade 12 students. The winter break has been extended until Jan. 10.
  • A curfew will be back in effect in Quebec. It begins today (New Year’s Eve) in order to attempt to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. Premier Francois Legault says the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will run indefinitely. Indoor private gatherings are also banned starting today. Quebec recorded 14,188 new cases Thursday and nine more people have died.
  • Prince Edward Island had a single-day record of cases Thursday with 169 new cases. Most of those sickened have mild to moderate symptoms, something Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison credits to a high level of vaccinations.
  • Despite the record number of Omicron cases everywhere, Times Square will still go ahead with festivities in the heart of New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to show the world the Big Apple is fighting its way through the pandemic.

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