Circuit breaker required to slow Omicron wave or cases could hit 10,000 by month end, says Ontario’s Science Table

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In its latest COVID-19 modelling projections, Ontario’s Science Table has said that a circuit breaker is required to slow the current wave.

“Increasing vaccination is not enough to slow this wave,” the science advisory body said in its report. “Circuit breakers with strong additional public health measures (at least 50% fewer contacts) and strong booster campaigns (250,000 per day) could blunt the Omicron wave. High-quality masks, physical distancing indoors, improved ventilation, and increased access to rapid testing can help buy time for boosters to take effect and keep schools open.”

The report noted that cases are climbing across most public health units in the province and the Omicron variant will shortly become the dominant one.

The group’s latest modelling data suggests that without “circuit breaker” restrictions, booster shots alone will likely not be enough to stop daily cases reaching between 6,000 and more than 10,000 per day by the end of 2021.

Omicron transmits very quickly, said the report. “Early evidence suggests it can produce severe disease. Without prompt intervention, ICU occupancy could reach unsustainable levels in early January,” the report read.

The Science Table is recommending an aggressive booster campaign to increase protection against the highly-transmissible variant.

“Although vaccines are less effective against Omicron infection, boosters can substantially increase protection. Even 2 doses likely provide strong protection against severe illness. The risk of severe illness is dramatically higher in the unvaccinated,” according to the report.

The advisory body feels, “We can help protect the most vulnerable with vaccination (children and boosters). Rapid rollout of booster doses is essential, with strong focus on the most vulnerable (e.g., long-term care, shelters, highrisk communities) and healthcare workers.”

Although uncertainty persists, waiting for more information will eliminate the opportunity for action, warned the Science Table.

Ontario reported 2,421 new infections today, its highest daily COVID-19 case count observed in seven months.

Thursday’s count was up significantly from 1,808 yesterday and the highest single-day case count since May 15 when 2,584 new cases were reported.

The Ministry of Health says that of the new cases, 1,530 are fully vaccinated, while 686 are unvaccinated, 72 are partially vaccinated and 133 have an unknown vaccination status.

Unvaccinated individuals, who make up around 23 per cent of Ontario’s total population, represent 28 per cent of all cases today.

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