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CANADA: Trudeau to give COVID-19 update as provinces reinstate public health measures

Omicron is now the dominant variant in several provinces

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver an update on COVID-19 today as the rapid spread of the Omicron variant is prompting more provinces to reinstate and tighten public health restrictions.

Trudeau is expected to speak at noon E.T. alongside Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam,  Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, and several ministers.

The update comes amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, with Omicron now the dominant variant in several provinces.

Quebec reported a record number of cases for the third day in a row, with the Omicron variant accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the 5,043 new infections.

Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault says she has asked Ottawa for military help to accelerate the province's mass vaccination campaign.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair has said the rising case counts in Quebec and across Canada are deeply concerning and the federal government will work with the province.

Ontario is investigating complaints of businesses or individuals reselling rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, with anyone caught doing so facing steep fines, and several hospitals have introduced stricter visitor policies.

Just before midnight tonight, bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centres, and dance studios in B.C. must close. 

Starting Friday, Alberta is limiting venues that seat more than 1,000 people, including arenas, to half capacity. 

Prince Edward Island has joined Newfoundland and Labrador in requiring visitors to isolate upon arrival to the province. 

Despite projections that Omicron-driven cases and hospitalizations will increase dramatically by the end of the month without stronger interventions, Saskatchewan is not planning to tighten public health measures for the holidays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press