On February 11, 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses adopted the official name of SARS-CoV-2, meaning “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”, and ever since we have been glued to our TV’s and Computers watching for the latest developments.
I think it’s safe to say that after 21 months of the same show, we all just want to change the channel! (If only that were an option.)
Like Star Wars, this virus just keeps on coming with the sequels. So many in fact, that we may start calling this pandemic “Sars Wars.” The latest and greatest sequel playing at theatre near you – Omicron!
Omicron reportedly replicates up to 70 times faster than previous variants but infection in the lungs appears less severe, according to research conducted by a team at Hong Kong University’s Faculty of medicine. This report could lull us into believing that we don’t need to stay vigilant against Omicron, however, there is still high enough risk to warrant our caution. While current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant, we are seeing “breakthrough” infections in people who are fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older should get a Booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
Information taken from Tom Yun’s article for CTV News on Dec. 17, 2021, reports that Canada has just experienced the highest single-day new cases of COVID-19 in seven months, with 7,145 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of active cases in Canada to 43,801.
The highest number of cases were in Quebec at 2,736 new infections, followed by Ontario with a reported 2,421 new cases. British Columbia reported 753 new cases, with Alberta at 473 new cases. Reports warn that Canada could see more than 10,000 new cases per day by January 2022.
According to information found on the Albert Health Services website, Albertans aged 5+ can now get the vaccine, and anyone eligible for the Booster are encouraged to get it as soon as they hit the 6-month mark from their last vaccination. Also, Albertans can get free COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits for at-home use.
Starting December 17th, rapid test kits can be picked up at select locations on a first-come first-served basis, while supplies last. Unlike the PCR tests that must be processed by a lab, the user-friendly rapid antigen tests can provide results in the comfort of your home in within approximately 15 to 20 minutes. There is a limit of one kit per person/health care number within a 14-day period. Additional pick-up locations will be added as more kits are available. Check out this link for more information on test kits: https://www.alberta.ca/rapid-testing-at-home.aspx#jumplinks-0
With Omicron potentially showing up as our unwanted guest at Holiday Celebrations, what can we do to help create a safer social gathering? Some suggestions are as follows:
- Reduce the number of guests at one gathering
- Have one person serving the food from a buffet-style meal. This includes appetizers, main course and desserts. It’s almost impossible to pick up a carrot stick or shrimp on a platter without touching the others. And forget about those delicious little dessert squares! Even using serving tongs can pose a risk when handled by multiple people.
- Ask everyone to take the rapid antigen test 20 minutes prior to arriving at the event (of course, if you test positive you don’t arrive!)
- Ventilate the room as much as possible (this is a bit tricky with our Alberta deep freeze, but even a small window opened a bit will help)
- Pass on the actual clink of glasses when doing a “Cheers.” Instead, just hold your glasses up.
- Keep your mask on whenever possible, removing it only to eat and drink.
Yes, I know this doesn’t sound like much fun, but just imagine how you’ll feel if someone who attends your event goes home sick. That’s really no fun at all!
In summary, whether you want to see it or not, Omicron is the latest sequel in this “Sars Wars” horror show. And there are likely to be a few more sequels before were done with this series! In the meantime, we must stay vigilant in our efforts to protect ourselves and others by doing what we can to minimize the spread of infection.
This is my opinion. What’s yours?
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