Previously reported and any new cases of COVID-19 that screen positive for Omicron variant now presumed to be OmicronIssued: Thursday, December 23, 2021
All previously reported cases that have screened positive for the COVID-19 Omicron variant and any newly reported cases that screen positive are now presumed to be Omicron. With the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and provincial laboratory findings, individuals who screen positive for Omicron are now considered to be the Omicron variant without the need for further confirmatory testing. There have been multiple cases that have screened positive to date in the Public Health Sudbury & Districts service area. This mirrors provincial data which indicates that Omicron is the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating in Ontario. To date in Sudbury and districts, 49 COVID-19 cases have screened positive for the Omicron variant, 47 of which are active cases.
“We have been bracing for the impact of the Omicron variant and have put in place increasingly protective local public health requirements since November, which are now part of the provincial regulations announced on Friday. Public Health is also redeploying all available resources to focus on vaccination clinics to reduce severe illness as much as possible. I am urging all who are eligible to get your COVID-19 vaccine booster (third dose) as soon as possible—especially those who are more vulnerable due to age or health conditions,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “Earlier modelling from Ontario’s Science Advisory Table showed that Omicron could push COVID-19 cases to new heights in just a matter of weeks. Locally, we are reporting a record number of cases today. We believe that these case counts are an underestimate as testing capacity is stretched and those who test positive using rapid antigen tests are not reported,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.
Area residents are advised that due to record numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19, there may be a delay between the time when you receive a positive COVID-19 test result and you are contacted by Public Health Sudbury & Districts or the Provincial Workforce (PWF). We ask for your patience while waiting. Per current provincial direction, please be aware that high-risk contacts will no longer be contacted by Public Health or the PWF at this time. Cases will be asked to identify and notify close contacts with the direction provided from Public Health or the PWF. To protect the privacy of individuals, Public Health does not disclose additional information about individual cases.
With holiday celebrations happening and Omicron circulating in Ontario, it is important that everyone who is eligible for a booster dose gets one as soon as possible. We are especially encouraging those with underlying health conditions, health care workers and their families, individuals who live or work in congregate settings (for example, group homes, shelters), and those 50+ to get a booster dose without delay.
The best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated—including children 5 to 11 and anyone eligible for a booster dose. Though no single measure on its own is 100% perfect, wearing a mask and ensuring you are fully vaccinated will reduce your risk of contracting or experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Continue to limit your outings, reduce your close contacts, work from home, and keep 2-metres distance from those outside your household. Monitor yourself for symptoms and stay home when ill—even mildly symptomatic people should self-isolate immediately and seek testing to prevent spreading COVID-19 in our community.
The Government of Ontario has released enhanced guidance on case, contact and outbreak management (Ministry of Health, PDF) for individuals that may have been exposed to the Omicron variant to mitigate further transmission. The Government of Canada implemented enhanced border measures for travellers. Public Health Sudbury & Districts has been progressively responding to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Local measures, including a reinstatement of capacity and gathering limits, strengthened masking requirements at organized events, proof of vaccination requirements, active screening, and work-from-home-instructions, remain in effect until amended or rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health. In addition, measures recently announced by the province further strengthen precautions by placing limits of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors for informal social gatherings (for example, in a private home).
Eligibility for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine now includes individuals aged 18 and over. While Public Health Sudbury & Districts has added thousands of new appointments for immunization throughout our area in a very short period of time, there are well over 100 000 individuals over 18 years of age in our service area. It will take weeks to provide a booster dose to this many people and we appreciate everyone’s patience. Visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations for pharmacy locations and booking information. Some primary care providers also offer vaccination against COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson Jansen COVID-19 vaccine will also be made available to individuals aged 18 and over who have an allergy or contraindication to mRNA vaccines or at the request of an individual who has not yet been vaccinated, in limited supply.
Public Health is closely monitoring the situation and further details will be shared once they are known. For more information or if you have questions, please visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).