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Omicron wave may have peaked, Tam says

A drop in positive tests and daily infections across Canada suggests the Omicron wave has peaked, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said Friday.

On average, there were 28 per cent fewer cases this week than last, Tam said at a COVID-19 briefing about the more contagious Omicron variant.

And while modelling has predicted that infections will peak this month, admissions to hospitals and intensive-care-units (ICUs) remain high and could keep increasing for awhile, she said.

“I really hope that, by the end of next month, we’re in a better position,” Tam said.

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In the past week, an average of more than 10,000 people with COVID a day were treated in Canadian hospitals, including more than 1,100 in ICUs.

The Ontario government responded to falling cases on Thursday by announcing that pandemic rules would be loosened on Jan. 31, including reopening restaurants and theatres, allowing some spectators at sports events, and increasing gathering sizes.

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With more kids vaccinated and more Canadians boosted, the population should have a reasonably good immunity against COVID — for now, Tam said.

“We need to see how that immunity continues,” she said. “We know that waning immunity does occur, and we need to prepare for any unusual variants that might come along.” 

At the same time, Canada must start preparing for normalcy, which means planning for the next season of respiratory viruses, COVID and otherwise, she said.

Tam still wouldn’t say whether three doses would become the new definition of fully vaccinated, repeating that such a decision would be made when more children get the chance to be inoculated and more adults get boosted.

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