The latest coronavirus news in Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
4:45 p.m .: Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott released a statement Sunday evening confirming two cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron in Ottawa.
Those affected have reportedly traveled from Nigeria and are in isolation to stop the spread.
The variant was first detected in South Africa. After the announcement, many countries, including Canada, banned flights from the country.
“The best defense against the Omicron variant is to stop it at our border,” the statement read. “We continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to impose point-of-arrival testing for all travelers.”
Elliott ensured that Ontario is ready and ready to respond to the new variant. Ontario’s COVID-19 Genomics Network is actively monitoring all potential variants circulating in the province.
“Ontario has the infrastructure in place to manage epidemics,” said Elliott. “Ontario is ready and ready to respond to the new variant.
4:15 p.m .: More than 6,100 children aged five to 11 received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first three days of the five immunization clinics run by the city of Toronto.
Team Toronto Kids’ COVID-19 vaccination campaign began Thursday as children ages 5 to 11 became eligible to receive the vaccine.
In a press release Sunday, the city of Toronto said that in addition to the 6,134 doses administered at city-run clinics from Thursday to Saturday, more children were also vaccinated through the larger network of Team Toronto vaccination clinics, including fixed clinics run by hospitals, Ontario Health teams, community health centers and more than 110 primary care providers and pediatricians.
The press release added that “a full update on all vaccines given to all residents in this age group will be provided on Tuesday.”
Toronto chief medical officer Dr Eileen de Villa said there was promise to see children getting vaccinated.
“What an encouraging achievement for our city. So many heroes aged five to 11 are mobilizing to protect themselves, their loved ones and our entire community against COVID-19, ”she said. “Sincere thanks to Team Toronto’s partners for their continued efforts to protect us all and to help us end this pandemic. “
Read the full story here from Mariam Nouser
4 p.m .: We’ve heard the names – Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma – all of the worrying variants when it comes to COVID.
And just a few days ago, a new variant surfaced in South Africa – B.1.1.529, now called Omicron by the WHO – which is even more transmissible than Delta, which has already crushed its competitors and is become dominant in Canada and the rest of the world.
Delta’s transmissibility doubled cases in one week in one part of Ontario after provincial restrictions were lifted.
Now the cases are increasing in Toronto as well and there is cause for concern.
“In Delta’s presence, for those who are not yet fully vaccinated, there is no escape,” said Dr. Peter Juni, epidemiologist and scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. A variant case results in an average of seven other infections in the unvaccinated, if no public health measures are taken.
“Either you are immunized by vaccination. It’s the easy way out, ”Juni said. “Or by infection. This is the risky route.
Juni says that at least 95% of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity because of Delta’s “impressive” reproduction numbers opposed to vaccines that are 85% protective.
There is no evidence yet to suggest that the newly discovered Omicron variant is in Canada.
What is known so far is that Omicron has outperformed Delta faster than Delta has outperformed Alpha, Juni said.
Star reporter Patty Winsa talks to Juni about groundbreaking cases, declining immunity, and how to protect yourself while on vacation.
Read the full Q&A here: What are the current risks of COVID-19 and what’s next? Ontario science table leader responds
3 p.m .: British Columbia-based researcher says banning travelers from southern African countries in an attempt to stop the importation of a new variant of COVID-19 is an example of “wishful thinking” that could do more harm than good.
Caroline Colijn, mathematician and epidemiologist at Simon Fraser University, says the omicron variant has already been detected in countries outside the target region and it is only a matter of time before it is found in Canada.
She says South Africa is to be commended for sequencing the omicron variant and for sharing its data with the rest of the world.
Colijn says she fears that countries like Canada, which have responded by imposing travel bans on southern African countries, may discourage this kind of transparency in the future.
Zain Chagla, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, agrees that “blindly closing borders” doesn’t make sense.
He says the omicron variant shows it’s time for a more coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at ensuring that every person in every country has broad access to vaccines.
11:02 am: Ontario Reports 964 More COVID-19 Cases And One More Death, according to his last report out on Sunday morning.
Ontario administered 33,249 vaccine doses since last daily update, with 22,928,466 vaccines administered in total at 8 p.m. the night before.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracking system, 11,677,477 people in Ontario have received at least one injection. This represents approximately 89.6% of the eligible population aged 12 and over, and the equivalent of 78.6% of the total population, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The province says 11,250,989 people have completed their vaccinations, meaning they received both doses. This represents approximately 86.3% of the eligible population aged 12 and over, and the equivalent of 75.7% of the total population, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
7:54 am: Australian authorities confirmed on Sunday that two overseas travelers arriving in Sydney have tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, as countries around the world tighten controls against the disturbing new strain.
The two passengers were among a group of 14 other people who arrived in Australia from southern Africa on Saturday. They were asymptomatic and both were vaccinated against COVID-19. The other 12 have been placed in quarantine.
Neighboring New Zealand has announced it is restricting travel from nine southern African countries due to the threat posed by the variant, and Japan has expanded its border controls to include more countries in the region.
Tourist-dependent Thailand, which only recently began to ease its strict border restrictions for leisure travelers from some countries, announced its own ban on visitors from eight African countries.
7:53 am: Swiss voters had their say on Sunday in a referendum on legislation that required the use of a special COVID-19 certificate that only allows people who have been vaccinated, cured or tested negative to attend events and rallies public.
The vote offers a relatively rare indicator of public opinion specifically on the issue of government policy to fight the coronavirus in Europe, currently the global epicenter of the pandemic.
The vote on the country’s “COVID-19 law”, which has also released billions of Swiss francs in aid to workers and businesses affected by the pandemic, comes as Switzerland – like many other countries in Europe – faces a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.
The Swiss federal government, unlike others, has not reacted with further restrictions. Analysts say he doesn’t want to spark more opposition to his anti-COVID-19 policies before he faces Sunday’s test at the polls. If the Swiss put their thumbs up, however, the government may well step up its anti-COVID efforts.
Polls suggest that a solid majority of Swiss will approve the measure, which is already in force and the rejection of which would end restrictions – as well as payments. But in recent weeks, opponents have amassed heaps of money for their campaign and garnered support from abroad.
Sunday 7:52 am: Israel on Sunday approved the entry ban for foreign nationals and the use of controversial contact tracing technology as part of its efforts to quell a new variant of the coronavirus.
The health ministry said in a statement that the country’s coronavirus cabinet had authorized a range of measures, including redlisted travel to 50 African countries, banning foreigners from entry and quarantining all. Israelis arriving from abroad.
He also endorsed the use of the controversial internal security agency Shin Bet’s phone monitoring technology to conduct contact tracing of people confirmed with the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in Israel.
Read Saturday’s coronavirus news.