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HAMILTON, ON – Effective today, Hamilton Public Health Services is prioritizing its staffing resources to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in high-risk settings to protect community members’ most vulnerable to severe outcomes of COVID-19, along with front-line healthcare workers, and other front-line workers, such as educators, correctional officers and non-clinical staff in local healthcare settings. The emergence of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has led to a large surge in the number of community members testing positive for COVID-19 in Hamilton which has overwhelmed Hamilton Public Health Services’ ability to provide outbreak management in all settings.

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High-risk settings in Hamilton, include hospitals, and complex continuing care facilities or acute care facilities; congregate settings (long-term care homes, retirement homes, shelters, supportive housing, correctional institution); childcare centres; and schools. These settings will continue to be provided with infection prevention and control guidance by Hamilton Public Health Services staff and declared outbreaks will be published on the City of Hamilton’s Status of Cases dashboard.

This change to focus staffing resources on high-risk settings means that Hamilton Public Health Services will no longer be declaring new outbreaks associated with workplaces or community settings. We are asking businesses, organizations and individuals to take measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 in these settings, and public health recommendations to support these efforts can be found here: Hamilton Public Health Services strongly recommends local workplaces, sports teams and other non-high-risk community settings with five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 consider discontinuing operations for a period of 10 days to break transmission in the setting. This difficult, but necessary action, will help reduce the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of concern, and protect strained local healthcare capacity and Hamilton’s most vulnerable. As part of this shift of focus for COVID-19 outbreak management to protect Hamilton’s most vulnerable, the Class Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act related to workplaces issued on May 3, 2021 has been rescinded as of December 23, 2021.

The best way community members can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of concern is to get fully vaccinated, and when eligible, get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, keep their guards up by following the well-established public health measures including wearing a tight-fitting mask properly, maintaining physical distance, limiting their contacts and size of social gatherings, and staying home when they’re unwell.

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