As 2022 approaches, Lakeridge Health hospitals are poised to ‘jump in’ if the need arises to admit more people as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps through Durham.
â€œWith the growing presence of the Omicron variant, Lakeridge Health will continue to screen, isolate and test all patients who have recently traveled overseas,â€ said Sharon Navarro, spokesperson for Lakeridge Health. “As a precaution, the hospital will also limit visits for those who have traveled overseas and ask staff to report international travel, quarantine and testing if necessary.”
The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across Ontario as well as locally, Durham Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Kyle explained in a recent statement. Demand for COVID-19 testing in Durham is increasing and there may be delays in getting tested and receiving results.
“If you are exhibiting symptoms, please isolate yourself from others while you wait to get tested and await your test results,” added Dr Kyle.
As the number of local cases continues to rise rapidly, residents who test positive can wait before being contacted by public health staff with instructions. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate (regardless of their vaccination status). The Omicron variant is easily spread, so family contacts of positive cases should also self-isolate (also regardless of their vaccination status).
According to the Durham Region COVID-19 data tracker, there were 42 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant and 832 suspected cases of Omicron as of December 24. Overall, there were 2,029 active COVID-19 cases in Durham, with two Oshawa residents hospitalized with the virus.
Lakeridge Health officials are closely monitoring the Omicron variant as the New Year approaches and say precautions will be adjusted if necessary. Hospitals have a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and visitors – which will continue until 2022 – and will adjust family presence and visitation policy as the pandemic progresses.
This fall, the future looked brighter.
In October, the province announced that all COVID-19 public health measures would be lifted by March 28, including the requirement for masks in indoor public places and proof of vaccination requirements.
In December, the province announced additional public health measures to slow the spread of Omicron. Social gatherings were limited and indoor capacity limits were reduced for many businesses and facilities.
“As we fight the spread of the highly contagious variant of Omicron, nothing matters more than putting these booster doses on people’s arms,” â€‹â€‹Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. communicated. â€œI am launching a call to arms. We need all of Team Ontario to stand up and do their part as we work to protect our hard-fought progress and keep Ontarians safe.
In a recent interview, Dr Kyle said Durham’s COVID vaccination data is cause for optimism. He described adult adoption as “excellent” and hopes the numbers for children will move in the same direction.
By the end of December, 87.5% of Durham residents aged 12 and over had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 85.2% had received two injections, while 39.5% of children aged 5 to 11 in the region had received their first injection, according to the data tracker.
In Durham this fall, more than 700 cases of COVID were reported in local schools between September and the end of December, along with 68 outbreaks in schools and several local schools forced to close in-person learning.
Dr. Winnie Sun, assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, said the data “underscores the urgency” to have children in this age group vaccinated – she also believes that concerns about Omicron will cause hesitant parents to vaccinate their children aged 5 to 11.
â€œA lot of parents have doubts now,â€ she said.
To combat the spread of the Omicron variant, the Durham Department of Health has also expedited the administration of third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Evidence shows that third doses can dramatically increase protection against the variant, explained Dr. Kyle.
Due to the rapid rollout of third doses for adults, appointment availability has been an issue for many residents. Dr Kyle pointed out that new appointments become available on a daily basis as resources are secured.
â€œHealth department staff continue to work very hard to increase the capacity to deliver vaccines to more residents every day,â€ said Dr Kyle. â€œThank you to the residents for doing their part and for trying to make an appointment for their vaccine. “
– with files from Jillian Follert