Omicron 'increasing the likelihood' most Ottawans will be exposed to COVID, top doctor says
Ottawa's top doctor warns the Omicron variant of concern is "increasing the likelihood" most people in Ottawa will eventually be exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
And with students and teachers set to return to class on Monday for the first time after the holiday break, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches is urging people to get vaccinated and stay home when they're sick to protect the population and hospital capacity.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Etches called the Omicron variant a "game changer" due to its high transmissibility, and says it's important for all residents to help "blunt the curve."
"The vast majority will be able to weather the virus at home and people can prepare for this by making sure they have basic supplies on hand and pain relief medication at home," said Etches during a media conference on Wednesday.
"Do seek health care assessment for severe symptoms, for chest pain, difficulty breathing, confusion, or rapidly worsening symptoms. Many who are unvaccinated and contract COVID-19, and even some vaccinated individuals, will need hospital care to address the impacts of the related illness.
"Omicron cannot be stopped altogether, but we can work to blunt the curve, to blunt that peak and to slow transmission so hospitals can maintain capacity to deliver care."
The COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project for Ottawa is showing signs the viral signal may have peaked, and there's been a slight decline over the past week.
Etches says it's too early to say if Ottawa has hit the peak of the Omicron wave, but there are some signs measures are "decreasing just slightly."
The Ontario government closed indoor dining rooms at restaurants and gyms on Jan. 5 in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Etches says now is the time where we will see if those measures will have an impact on community transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
"I would say it is unpredictable with Omicron because it's so transmissible, it still have many people in our community it can reach," said Etches.
"Because it is still infecting people who are vaccinated, that's a lot of people in Ottawa where we could still see ongoing transmission given its high transmissibility. Again, if we can slow that it helps our hospitals."
Education minister Stephen Lecce announced Wednesday that parents will only be notified of potential COVID-19 outbreak when about 30 per cent of students in their school are absent.
Get vaccinated: Etches
Ottawa Public Health says anyone who is eligible for a first, second or booster dose can drop in to a community clinic to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, no appointment necessary.
The health unit said that while drop-ins will be accepted, they may not be guaranteed and booking a shot on the provincial portal can ensure you get a shot.
Etches says Ottawa has "capacity" to vaccinate everyone, including booster doses.
"I strongly recommend all Ottawa residents eligible for a third dose receive one as soon as possible," said Etches.
"There is increasing evidence that immunity can wane over time and a third dose provides greater protection against severe illness and complications from COVID-19. The evidence is clear that the rates of hospitalization due to Omicron infection are significantly higher in unvaccinated compared to vaccinated population."
Opposed to a tax on the unvaxxed
On Tuesday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced the province would impose a "significant" penalty on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Both Mayor Jim Watson and Dr. Etches say they're opposed to the idea.
"I don't support what the premier of Quebec has proposed; I think there are logistical challenges with it. I would rather work with those people who are unvaccinated to continue to convince them of the merits of vaccination as opposed to sending them a bigger tax bill," said Watson on Wednesday.
"I would rather us use a carrot as opposed to a stick and encourage people to get their vaccination, because at the end of the day it's in their self interest to protect themselves and their loved ones."
Dr. Etches says while vaccination is important protection, she doesn't support a tax.
"I do think it's important to recognize the value of access to health care being a right, and something we do prioritize in Canada. So to me it would be problematic to create barriers to health care for people."
Ottawa Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Families are sharing photos and stories of their loved ones, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday afternoon.
Onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, a witness said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
The Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls debated face-to-face in French, in Laval, Que. on May 25. Recap CTV News reporters' real-time updates as the debate unfolded.
A news conference about the shooting at a Texas elementary school broke into shouting Wednesday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke blamed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for inaction ahead of the latest in a long string of mass shootings in the state.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled plans to appear in person at a Liberal fundraiser in British Columbia Tuesday after RCMP warned an aggressive protest outside the event could escalate if he arrived, said a source close to the decision. The source spoke to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Several parts of the country, including British Columbia and Canada's Maritime provinces, are likely to see wetter-than-normal conditions this summer, according to AccuWeather's annual summer forecast.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
A jury in Portland has convicted a self-published romance novelist - who once wrote an essay titled 'How to Murder Your Husband' - of fatally shooting her husband four years ago.
Do oil companies control the price of crude? CTVNews.ca asked experts to explain.
As the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mass shooting moves its public proceedings to Truro, many of the family members affected by the tragedy and their lawyers are boycotting the proceedings over the next week.
Former Chief Anchor Steve Murphy offers a timely perspective on the Mass Casualty Commission and the difference 30 years after the Westray inquiry.
Speaking off-script at an event in Halifax Wednesday morning, Canada's Minister of Public Safety said he was gutted by the latest mass shooting south of the border - the 27th in a school this year alone.
Was your home damaged by the Ontario storm? Insurance companies say payouts could take weeks to process
The insurance industry says it could take up to six weeks to get an idea of how many hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs will be required from the weekend storm that brought death and destruction to Ontario and Quebec, but that early estimates are substantial.
Police have released new video of a recent incident in which a vehicle was caught doing doughnuts and speeding along the shoulder of busy Ontario roadways.
People all across Ontario are getting creative when it comes to netting a secondary income, otherwise known as a “side hustle,” and many are turning to secondhand economies thriving on online platforms.
Quebec politicians were not pleased with the federal Liberals' comments on Bill 96 and Bill 21, firing back with a slew of protests and even raising sovereignty as the solution.
Quebec's public health department is set to give its first press conference on the growing monkeypox outbreak as the province recorded its 16th confirmed case Wednesday.
Several of the six aspiring Conservative leaders expressed their opposition to Bill 96 during a French-language debate in Laval on Wednesday night, but others shied away from the opportunity to express their views on the issue.
It’s a sign that summer is on the horizon. Farmers’ markets are opening in cities and towns across the north.
Health care appears to be one of the bigger issues for voters along the North Shore as they get set to cast ballots in Algoma-Manitoulin.
A candidate in the provincial election in Greater Sudbury has been named in a $306 million lawsuit related to last winter's trucker convoy in Ottawa.
Two men and one woman are facing charges Wednesday after police say their vehicle struck a London police cruiser and then the suspects fled the scene on foot over the weekend.
OPP and Southwest Middlesex fire are on the scene of a fatal collision Wednesday afternoon involving a tanker truck and a passenger vehicle.
Jeff Ducharme was in his home office when a young man in a truck pulled up, ran up to the front of his home in Norwich, Ont. and stole his pride flag in broad daylight.
The Manitoba Government could turn to the military for help as it struggles with staffing shortages, overcrowding, and in some cases, temporary closures of emergency rooms.
The Manitoba government is hinting it may allow more alcohol sales through private channels to boost customer convenience.
Hundreds of residents in River Park South were left without power Wednesday evening after a pole was knocked down on St. Anne's Road.
New details are emerging about the tragic incident that killed 27-year-old Shelby Humble-Neale on Saturday.
Waterloo regional police say evidence of gunfire found in McLennan Park in Kitchener is connected to another shooting incident in the nearby area of Windflower Drive and Windflower Crescent.
Two 29-year-old men have been seriously injured following a collision in Baden, Ont., with one needing to be airlifted to a hospital outside the region.
The City of Calgary has recruited three people from the commercial real-estate sector in an effort to get a new event centre to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.
After a massacre at a Texas elementary school, some are looking into safety protections against gun violence in Calgary's school system while mental health experts are offering advice for difficult conversations about mass shootings.
Those who haven't receive their bill by the first week of June are asked to contact 311.
The Prime Minister toured the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Saskatoon Police Service says that the use and presence of potent new synthetic opioids known as nitazenes are difficult to track and monitor.
A 48-year-old semi-truck driver was killed in in a rollover near Meadow Lake on Tuesday.
Even though they cheer for opposite teams, a proposal by a Flames fan at Game 4 of the Battle of Alberta received a resounding "yes" from the Oilers-loving bride to be.
Edmonton’s School Resource Officer Program has received a passing grade in a new report that was presented to Catholic School Trustees on Wednesday.
Alberta's justice minister is facing criticism for "strange" and "remarkably unhelpful" comments he made in the legislature on Tuesday when an NDP MLA asked him to help fight crime in Chinatown.
A social media video that captures the moment a man gets Tasered by a Vancouver police officer is prompting calls for more training for police going out mental health calls.
A judge has refused to grant a B.C. cannabis company an injunction against a man who used a list of email addresses the company accidentally sent to all shareholders against it.
Legal scholar says Canada 'absolutely' exists on stolen Indigenous land despite Trudeau sidestepping question
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not provide a clear answer when asked Monday if he believes Canada exists on stolen Indigenous land – but a legal scholar says the answer is obvious.
'All it takes is one': Sask. RCMP partner with Washington police to publicize disappearance of Mekayla Bali
Saskatchewan RCMP and the Washington State Patrol announced a collaboration of efforts to locate Mekayla Bali, who was 16-years-old when she was last on April 12, 2016 in Yorkton.
A new art exhibit at the George Bothwell Library is hoping to examine and remove the feeling of shame associated with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
For those looking to hop the border into Manitoba for their camping seasons, it started off on the wrong foot for Duck Mountain Provincial Park.