(Montreal) Canada has officially recorded more than two million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, as health care workers brace for a possible peak after the holiday season, due to the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The Government of Canada website reports that the total number of cases reached 2000,976 by Boxing Day. The account is not updated during the holiday season.
Despite the high official numbers, analysts believe the true number of infections is likely to be much higher. Several counties have only required people to get tested if they show symptoms, as hospitals and screening centers have reached their limits.
Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba all reported thousands of additional cases Monday, sparking renewed concern about the ability of their health systems to handle the influx of patients.
Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions, said a spike in cases is usually seen two weeks after exposure to the virus, and she worries that holiday gatherings may soon overwhelm hospitals.
“We all prepare for it with fear and crossed fingers and toes,” she said in an interview on Monday.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube urged people to reduce contact after the province saw the number of hospitalized cases increase by more than 140 over four days. Quebec has reported 8,231 new cases.
Minister Dube wrote on Twitter that 320 people were hospitalized while 179 were released between December 22 and 26. He noted that admissions are on the rise, with 93 people hospitalized on Boxing Day alone.
Ontario has reported 9,418 new cases of COVID-19, just below records on Christmas Day.
Ontario’s Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced that 480 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, while the number in intensive care has risen to 176.
Nova Scotia health officials have reported an outbreak at the Halifax Infirmary of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center.
They did not give details of how many patients have tested positive, but said fewer than five have been infected. Nova Scotia has recorded 581 new cases of COVID-19.
Manitoba has reported eight new deaths among people with COVID-19 since the last report on Christmas Eve, as well as 2,154 new cases, with 675 counted on Monday.
About 75% of all COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are now suspected to be due to the Omicron variant, the province said in a news release.
MI Silas said he fears the replacement will exacerbate an already existing nursing shortage, especially if infected nurses don’t have time to stay home and recover.
She suggested that all Canadian families undergo free rapid tests to help reduce the spread of the disease.
Earlier on Monday, Manitoba announced that it would provide rapid take-out tests at provincial testing centers.
Health and Aging Minister Audrey Gordon said in a statement that most asymptomatic and fully vaccinated people who visit screening sites will receive a quick home test and will not be invited to return for a PCR test only if the result is positive.
She said the changes would be “implemented in phases”.
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