Concerns about the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Ontario have prompted Ontario’s chief medical officer of health to call a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, two days ahead of his customary weekly briefing.
Dr. Kieran Moore will talk to reporters at Queen’s Park today, in addition to his scheduled briefing on Thursday, according to a representative for Ontario’s health minister.
The last-minute press conference comes only one day after Ontario’s Science Advisory Table disclosed worrying new statistics on the Omicron variant’s spread across the province.
According to the table, the variant of concern now represents about 30 per cent of all new cases in the province and has a doubling time of every three days. Public Health Ontario previously projected that Omicron would become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the province in early January but Dr. Peter Jüni, the head of the Science Advisory Table, told CP24 Monday that it will become dominant at some point this week.
“People cannot imagine the sheer scale of what we are talking about here,” he said.
Jüni warned that data from the United Kingdom indicates that protection against Omicron infection likely starts to wane about 12 weeks after receiving the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is a three-dose vaccine. Everybody needs to get vaccinated and we need to rush as fast as we can,” he said.
The Ontario Hospital Association said Monday that hospitals in the province are “urgently” working to reactivate mass immunization centres.
“This is truly a race against time,” Ontario Hospital Association President Anthony Dale said in a tweet on Monday.
Currently, only select groups and people over the age of 50 are eligible to book a third dose. As it stands, those 18 and older in the province will not be eligible to book a third dose until Jan. 4 but many experts have called on the Ford government to bump up that date in the wake of Omicron.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Tuesday morning that there is considerable work going on behind the scenes to ramp up capacity in Ontario.
“I think we are going to see an accelerated third dose strategy,” he said.
Moore will be speaking to reporters today at 3 p.m.