With Canada recording more than two million total COVID-19 cases, there are mounting concerns over how provincial health systems will cope with an expected surge in cases after the holidays.
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions President Linda Silas said her members are bracing themselves for the “big bump” usually seen two weeks after exposure to the virus. She added there are worries hospital could become overwhelmed with new cases as a result of holiday gatherings and the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Several provinces reported record high daily case counts over the Christmas weekend.
Quebec reported 8,231 cases, and Health Minister Christian Dube urged people to reduce contacts after hospitalizations climbed by more than 140 over a four-day period. Dube tweeted that 320 people were admitted to hospital while 179 were released between Dec. 22 and 26. On Monday, Montreal’s executive committee renewed the local state of emergency that was declared on Dec. 21 for another five days.
Manitoba announced new public health restrictions on Monday after recording eight new COVID-19 related deaths and 2,154 cases over a three-day period. As of 12:01 a.m., indoor and outdoor gatherings are now capped at 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity or 250 people, whichever is fewer.
New restrictions are also now in effect in New Brunswick, where the province announced it would impose a 50 per cent capacity limit on restaurants, stores, bars, gyms and other establishments after officials reported 639 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period.
Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported a record 357 infections in the last three days, while Prince Edward Island reported 156 cases over the same period. Nova Scotia recorded 581 COVID-19 cases, including an outbreak at the Halifax Infirmary site of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.
Also on Monday, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a rapid test. He tweeted he will remain in isolation and continue to follow public health guidelines, but did not share any details about the state of his health or where he may have contracted the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2021.