OMICRON is tearing through Ontario. Bruce Arthur writes:
It’s beginning to look a lot like chaos, everywhere you go. On Monday people lined up for rapid tests that ran out fast, or tried to get booster appointments that weren’t available until February next year. Some public health units ran out of Pfizer or contact tracing or both, and testing may be next. These are the early days of Omicron, and it probably feels like you’re on your own.
Which despite the best efforts of so many, you probably are. A lot of the defences people have counted on to see COVID clearly, or keep them safe from infection, are already crumbling. Omicron moves too fast.
“I think people need to be taking precautions for the coming storm,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Peel. “The opening of eligibility to 18-plus has basically overwhelmed capacity and supply; we really need people to reduce their contacts in the meantime while they await their booster, especially if they’re older.
“At the local level, we’re working as best and as quickly as we can to get it out. But the storm is coming and visibility is starting to diminish. Basically now we’re at the point where if you’re sick or exposed, just stay home. If you’re getting worse, go to the hospital. If you’re young with two doses, consider helping an older member of the community get to a spot first.”
OMICRON is like a prairie blizzard. You can see it coming from miles away. It moves fast. And, when it hits, everything comes to a halt:
Which means these are the days before a Hail Mary deliverance, or the hardest part. Mathematical modelling led by Dr. Sally Otto at UBC reiterated what she told the Star last week: if Omicron is half as severe as Delta, we will still have more people in hospital than we’ve ever had. If it’s 10 per cent as severe, then Omicron can likely be treated as something less than a bomb.
So it’s a hell of a thing to bet on the most optimistic outcome, which scientists in Denmark and the United Kingdom and Germany and Canada still describe as unlikely. There are more than 800,000 unvaccinated Ontarians between 30 and 69, and if another 150 land in the ICU elective surgeries are likely gone. Ontario’s health-care workers had already been thinned by the pressure of previous waves; the police, as the Star’s Wendy Gillis reports, are anticipating 20-30 per cent of the workforce could be sickened with Omicron at once. Imagine that shortage in health care, and most everything else.
This will most surely be a winter of discontent.
Image: Global News