Here are the latest COVID-19 and Omicron variant updates from Canada and around the world:
- The U.S. has shortened COVID-19 isolation period. Should Canada follow suit?
- Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the U.K. and Spain all set records for new daily case counts this week that were likely driven by the Omicron variant. The high case counts reported across Europe outpace anything witnessed over the past two years of the pandemic.
- Health officials in Quebec are reporting 13,149 new infections today – its highest daily case count to date. And, while facing severe health-care staffing shortages, the province is planning to allow some health care staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 to return to their duties.
- How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? Check The Globe’s coronavirus tracker for daily updates on how the numbers are trending across the country and around the world
8:34 p.m. ET
B.C. delays school restart for most students until Jan. 10 as COVID-19 cases surge
British Columbia is delaying the full return to classrooms in January to allow public health officials to assess the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and give school staff time to implement enhanced safety measures.
Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says staff and students whose parents are health workers, as well as those who need extra support, will return to schools Jan. 3 or 4. All other students will return to classrooms Jan. 10.
Whiteside says enhanced safety measures will include the cancellation of extracurricular sports tournaments and plans to control crowding at schools, such as through staggered recess and break times.
- The Canadian Press
COVID-19 postpones Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show
The 144-year-old Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show has been postponed or cancelled in New York.
The club’s board of governors announced Wednesday it was postponing its 2022 event, scheduled for late January, to later in the year. A new date wasn’t given.
“The health and safety of all participants in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are paramount,” said the club’s board of governors in a statement. “We appreciate the community’s continued interest and support as we delay the show to a time when we can safely convene.”
- The Associated Press
Manitoba reports 947 new COVID-19 cases, a pandemic high
Manitoba reported another record for daily COVID-19 cases with 947 new infections, but the province’s chief medical officer of health cautioned the figure was skewed due to delays in testing.
Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday there was a backlog of about 10,700 tests that haven’t yet been screened for COVID-19.
“The numbers we report are definitely an underestimate of the amount of transmission we’re seeing right now,” he said.
- The Canadian Press
World junior hockey championship cancelled due to COVID-19 cases
The world junior hockey championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., has been cancelled according to multiple reports.
Reporter Chris Peters of the Daily Faceoff first reported that the International Ice Hockey Federation scrapped the tournament after three days of competition after players on multiple teams returned positive COVID-19 tests.
On Tuesday, the U.S. team forfeited its game against Switzerland after two players tested positive for COVID-19. This morning, team Czechia was placed in quarantine.
- The Canadian Press
2:31 p.m. ET
Yukon reports 27 new COVID-19 cases, but government says active infections unchanged
The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Yukon shows 27 new cases since Christmas Eve, a jump of 20 cases, but the total of active infections remains unchanged at 49.
A news release from the Yukon government says nearly 25,500 tests for COVID-19 have been done on just over 17,000 patients across the territory, producing almost 16,000 negative results.
Those numbers do not include private testing and the statement says 102 results were pending.
1:57 p.m. ET
Spurred by Omicron, Europe is setting infection records every day
Like the United States, which recorded a new high in daily cases Tuesday, European nations are struggling against an onslaught of infections from a virus that shows no sign of going away.
The World Health Organization warned Wednesday that it was not just patients that were stressing the system, but health care workers falling ill and needing to isolate.
– New York Times
1:46 p.m. ET
U.K. records new record number of COVID-19 cases
The United Kingdom reported 183,037 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a new record and over 53,000 more than the previous highest figure registered just a day earlier, government statistics showed.
The rise, sparked by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus, also coincides with an increase in the number of patients in hospital who have tested positive for coronavirus.
1:14 p.m. ET
Nunavut extends lockdown as COVID-19 infections surge in the territory
Nunavut is extending its “circuit-breaker” lockdown as a rise in COVID-19 infections pushes the territory’s health-care system to a breaking point.
The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says it now has 74 cases in eight communities after having zero cases on Dec. 21.
12:43 p.m. ET
Ontario opposition leaders call for clarity on back-to-school amid Omicron spread
Critics are calling on the Ontario government to provide clarity on the planned return to school next week amid record-high COVID-19 infections.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the government should have used the holiday period to make schools safer with plans for regular testing, better masks and improved ventilation.
11:50 a.m. ET
Quebec reports a record 13,149 new COVID-19 cases
Quebec continues to break records in new daily COVID-19 cases.
Health officials are reporting 13,149 new infections today and 10 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
They say COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by 102 compared with the prior day, to 804, after 179 people entered hospital and 77 were discharged. There are 122 people in intensive care, a rise of seven patients.
Health-care unions are denouncing the government’s plan to permit some asymptomatic staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 to stay on the job.
11:41 a.m. ET
B.C. Teachers Federation wants delay of school restart as COVID-19 cases surge
The British Columbia Teachers Federation says thousands of students are still unvaccinated and many teachers and support staff haven’t received vaccine booster shots, so school districts and the B.C. government must “step up” to protect everyone in the public school system. The union wants the province to delay the start of the winter term in public schools.
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