"We planned a very large buffer for the vacation period. But this was not sufficient due to the high rate of people calling in sick," said Lufthansa in a statement shared with Narcity.
The German-based airline didn't specifically name Omicron, but other airlines have blamed the variant for forcing them to cancel flights.
"The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," United told Narcity in a statement. "As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport."
According to FlightAware, United cancelled 201 flights on December 24 and more than 230 flights on Christmas Day. Delta cancelled 173 flights on December 24 and 301 flights on December 25. Between the two airlines over two days, that's a total of at least 900 flights.
Delta told ABC News this happened because its teams had "exhausted all options and resources -- including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying — before cancelling around 90 flights for Friday."
"We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight," said Delta in its statement to ABC.
Overall, FlightAware shows a total of 2,380 flight cancellations on December 24 and 2,586 cancellations on December 25. The airline with the most reported Christmas Day cancellations is China Eastern with 545 cancelled flights.
Austalia's 7 News reported that Jetstar cancelled dozens of flights on Christmas Eve because "frontline staff have needed to get tested and isolate as close contacts."
Three cancelled flights at YUL
So far, however, if you're travelling out of the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport aka YUL, you'll very likely be able to take off. Whether or not you can arrive at your destination depends on where you're transferring.
Only three Christmas Day flights are currently cancelled at YUL: two Air Canada flights to New York (LaGuardia) at 1:25 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. as well as a British Airways flight to London (Heathrow) at 9 p.m.
It's not clear why these particular flights were cancelled.
At the time this was published, there were no cancellations scheduled for December 26.
"We need to be careful to not give more reasons to encourage these individuals to not respect the rules," said Dubé.
"It's not for nothing that we're talking about prioritization protocols for hospitals," he said, referring to the government's planning to deal with beds filled beyond capacity and staffing shortages caused by the Omicron wave. "The situation in hospitals, if people haven't understood, is we've reached the end of the line."
Last week, a handful of Montreal restaurants, including Kesté and Cafeteria Europa, announced that they would open on January 30 at full capacity. That plan is in protest of "arbitrary measures that have been proven not to be effective in solving the issue we are all faced with," according to an Instagram post.
But Dubé said things need to happen in a certain order.
"We have to take control of the situation, notably hospitals, before discussing reopenings," the health minister explained on Tuesday.
"At the same time, I want to say to those people that you have a reason to be upset," Dubé said. "We all have reason to be upset [...] but at the same time, it would be disappointing to let go [of rules] where there could be, in a few days, a stabilization of cases and eventually, a reduction. Before opening your restaurant, think about the workers in hospitals, where we're missing 12,000 workers."
Dubé declined to provide a timeline or a sense of what might reopen next when the government begins to remove restrictions, reiterating that the situation in hospitals needed to be under control first.
"I understand you're frustrated, but think about the workers and the health network [...] we want to reopen, but wait a little bit."
On Tuesday, Quebec reported more new 89 new COVID-19 deaths. The province also recorded a net increase of 36 COVID-19 hospital patients on January 17, bringing the total number of active hospitalizations to 3,417, of which 289 were in intensive care, a net increase of three.
The province also tallied 5,143 new infections. However, because PCR tests are no longer available to the general public, official case counts are unreliable.
#COVID19 - En date du 17 janvier, voici la situation au Qu\u00e9bec: http://bit.ly/3u2lZJO\u00a0pic.twitter.com/OqMcUlGW16
Large stores with an area of at least 1,5000 square meters, such as Canadian Tire, will require the vaccine passport as of January 24. Grocery stores and pharmacies are exempt.
Health Minister Christian Dubé has hinted that even more businesses could require customers to be fully vaccinated in the coming months.
The government has also announced its intention to impose a tax on unvaccinated residents. Premier François Legault has called the sum an additional health contribution to compensate for the disproportionate burden unvaccinated Quebecers place on the health care system.
Critics have said the so-called "unvaxxed tax" would unfairly punish vulnerable populations who may not have had access to a vaccine.
The National Assembly is set to debate the proposed measure when it's back in session.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Health Canada has officially approved Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral treatment for use among adults 18 years and over. Considering that Quebec's hospitals are currently overwhelmed, the approval of the drug, called Paxlovid, might be the light at the end of the tunnel many have been looking for. (Although of course, we've heard that line before.)
Quebec's Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé remarked on the approval on Monday, calling it "very good news" for the province and its overwhelmed health care system. In a tweet, Dubé stated that "we can hope that this treatment will eventually allow us to limit our hospitalizations due to COVID-19."
Paxlovid is not preventative like a vaccine — it's designed to be used to treat an infection. The treatment is said to lessen the symptoms from mild to moderate infections and reduce the period in which an individual remains ill from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The drug combines nirmatrelvir — an inhibitor designed to block the replication of the virus — with ritonavir — which helps slow the body's breakdown of nirmatrelvir so that it remains active longer. It will be made available by prescription only and is the very first antiviral treatment in pill form accessible to Canadians for at-home treatment of COVID-19.
After months of Pfizer's clinical trials, Health Canada observed that "Paxlovid reduced the proportion of participants with COVID-19 related hospitalization or death through Day 28 by 89.1%, compared with placebo."
Update: @GovCanHealth has approved Paxlovid, Pfizer\u2019s antiviral treatment for COVID-19. We\u2019ve secured 1 million treatment courses \u2013 more than 30,000 have already arrived, and we\u2019re getting at least 120,000 more before the end of March.
Canada has already secured 1 million treatment courses, over 30,000 of which have already arrived, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed in a January 17 tweet. The government expects to receive an additional 120,000 treatments of Pfizer's Paxlovid by the end of March.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
On December 30, 2021, François Legault announced a handful of restrictions across Quebec, which included the closure of indoor dining and places of worship, and the postponement of a return to in-person learning at schools in the new year. In a January 13 Facebook post, Legault confirmed elementary and high school students would be returning to class as of Monday, January 17. But what about university students?
Montreal CEGEPs and universities also reverted to remote learning, however, things are looking a little different for students returning to in-person classes at post-secondary institutions. Premier Legault stated in a January 12 post that while universities could reopen their doors as of the 17th, they are being given extra leeway to determine the exact date in which in-person classes could resume.
Concordia University students are expected to return back to in-person learning on February 3, per a recent news notice. Vannina Maestracci, the university spokesperson, revealed that the initial date was extended beyond January 20, and any possibility of a further extension will be relayed to the community as soon as possible.
The Concordia Library and Birks Student Service Centre remain open, along with a number of designated break areas for students to eat. As for mask requirements, students will be expected to wear procedure masks "when entering university buildings and using shared indoor spaces," including classrooms, the university states.
In-person learning will be returning even earlier for McGill University students. With "Tier 1" activities (labs, etc.) having been in-person since January 10, most instruction will be moving from online to in-person as of January 24. McGill's media relations rep, Katherine Gombay issued a statement that despite plans for return, the university remains flexible with contingency plans put into place in case the COVID-19 situation changes.
Université de Montreal is expected to return to in-person sessions as of January 31,* although their libraries have remained open. The university has also made it clear that the use of masks is "mandatory" across campus for all activities at all times.
The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) has also stated that remote learning will take place until January 31.* However, many activities in which face-to-face teaching is essential will return as early as January 24.