COVID restrictions have started easing in Canadian provinces. Although, active cases in Canada are around 290,000 with rapidly spreading Omicron variant, but studies have shown that this variant is not as severe as previous strains. People infected by Omicron may not require hospitalization in the most of the cases. In severe cases, hospitalization is for shorter period because of short incubation period of this variant.
U.K. Lifted Masking:
On January 19, U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced that face masks will no longer be mandatory in public places. Also COVID vaccine proofs will not be required to attend large events beginning Jan 27. Johnson’s reason for removing the restrictions was because government scientists believed that the surge of highly contagious Omicron variant “has now peaked nationally.”
Canadian Provinces On COVID Health Measures:
British Columbia: On January 20, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control announced key changes to managing illness and self-isolation in the province. This change include not requiring a COVID19 test, if you are having mild symptoms. You can stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities without any specified time to isolate. Even close contacts do not need to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status, but should self-monitor.
Ontario: On the same, Ontario announced details of steps to cautiously and gradually easing of measures starting January 31. This decision was taken in consultation with Chief Medical Officer of Health because key public health and health care indicators starting to show signs of improvement. Next scheduled lifting of public health measures is projected to be on February 21 and March 14.
Alberta: Premier Jason Kenney said “there were early signs the province has reached and surpassed peak COVID-19 cases in the fifth wave. If the (Omicron) variant performs in Alberta like it has in jurisdictions all around the world, we can reasonably expect that we may now be beginning on the down-slope of transmission.”
Prince Edward Island said COVID19 recoveries are outpacing new cases as 249 new infections were reported on Jan 20 along with 292 more recoveries. Overall active cases are reducing in the province.
Newfoundland and Labrador health officials said kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms are to reopen Tuesday. Students will have to take two rapid tests before returning to school.
Quebec: “For the moment, we can’t afford to lift public health measures. Doing so would pose a significant risk of once again increasing transmission and hospitalizations, which we can’t do,” Quebec Premier, François Legault (on Jan 20)
Saskatchewan: Six of Saskatchewan’s largest unions representing 113,000 front-line workers asked Premier Scott Moe to immediately bring in recommendations made by the chief medical health officer. We see no clear evidence that lockdown measures have reduced hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths in other provinces and, as a result, there is no reason to impose harmful new restrictions in Saskatchewan.”
CPHO of Canada on COVID Situation:
On January 21, Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) of Canada said that many of the experts agree that COVID19 is going to stay and coronavirus will continue to be in the human population. David (reporter) from CBC News asked about Dr. Tam’s thoughts on the Institute of Health Metrics and evaluation of the University of Washington saying (on Jan 21) that the pandemic is winding down and will be over by April with COVID essentially becoming a seasonal flu. Responding to this Dr. Tam said, “I don’t think what you just said, it’s necessarily be scenario, but it is possible scenario. So, we need to prepare for different potential futures.”
On a follow-up question about Dr. Tam’s thoughts on; that the same institute also suggests that Omicron wave will essentially be over in a few weeks and that it will be time to lift mask mandates, vaccine passports, and other restrictions. Dr. Tam responded, “So, I think in the January time frame the peak may occur but the hospitalizations and the ICU admissions may continue to increase for some time. So that’s in February and I really hope that by the end of that next month, we’ll be in a better position.”