The holiday bustle has been put on an abrupt pause at D. O. P. restaurant.
Staff have been sent home until the new year. Some are sick and some have COVID.
“We had a pile of tests downstairs we were taking and they were coming back negative, so we were working through it,” said owner Tony Migliarese. “Then, over the holidays we had a couple of positive tests and then checked in with staff and a lot of them weren’t feeling well, even if they tested negative.”
“We’re going to close until the new year and we’ll take it from there.”
D.O.P. isn’t alone. Several Calgary restaurants are facing holiday closure or reduced hours due to staff shortages caused by illness.
While the shortages aren’t all Omicron related, COVID patients are also reporting significant changes in the most common symptoms.
While fever and a loss of taste or smell used to be tell-tale signs, some doctors say runny noses, sneezing, headaches and sore throats are now topping the symptom list among Omicron patients.
“A couple of things that we’re seeing a lot right now is people coming in with sore throats and sort of scratchy throats thinking that they’ve got strep, and they are testing positive for Omicron,” said Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, an urgent care doctor and family physician in Calgary. “And then the other thing is people coming in thinking that they’ve got a cold or flu, kind of achy and you know, fever, chills, runny nose, tired, and they’re testing positive for Omicron.”
And while test manufacturers haven’t yet altered their advice, some health authorities are providing new instructions to people using rapid antigen test kits.
The UK government is asking users to first swab their throat – before swabbing their nose – for the most accurate test results.
“We’re finding that people, especially early in their symptoms, if they only test their nose, that they get a negative test. But if they test their throat and nose, they get a positive test,” said Dr. Bhardwaj. “It seems like Omicron lives mostly in your throat at the beginning.”
Bhardwaj also advises the use of N-95 masks, especially by servers, and testing before exposures as much as possible.
The Alberta government is expected to provide an update on COVID numbers on Tuesday.