Jan 10, 2022

By Jane Brown

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COVID-19 cases are threatening to overwhelm hospitals in several parts of Canada, with hospitalizations nearing or reaching record highs here in Ontario, as well as in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to hold a scheduled call with premiers and territorial leaders today, during which challenges around Omicron will be discussed.

As of Sunday in Ontario, there were just over 2400 related hospitalizations with about 400 people in intensive care units.

Dr. Bob Bell is CEO of Toronto’s University Health Network and says every Western country dealing with Omicron has seen its hospitals stressed.

Absenteeism related to Omicron is also being felt among the city’s paramedics.

“If the big one ever hits, and it has, you’re screwed, because you can’t run an emergency service without having a surge capacity in it,” explained Mike Merriman, union chair representing Toronto’s paramedics. He says he believes the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, while City of Toronto Spokesperson Brad Ross says there will be delays in responding to low priority calls while paramedics respond to higher priority calls due to absences related to COVID 19.

In British Columbia and Alberta, meantime, students are physically heading back to class today.

B.C. Provincial health officer Doctor Bonnie Henry has said schools need to remain open for the emotional, physical and intellectual well-being of children.

The back-to-class plan includes mandatory three-layer masking in indoor areas, staggered start and break times, and measures to reduce crowding in common areas.

The earliest schools will return to in-person learning in Ontario is Monday January 17th.

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