Ontario is weighing a shift in its COVID-19 vaccination strategy that would allocate 50 per cent of doses to hot-spot areas. Health Minister Christine Elliot says the province expects to make a decision very shortly on the recommendation from its COVID-19 science advisory table to bring down surging cases. Elliott says the province has been held back by its limited supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, but expects to receive higher shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech.
Here is Health Minister Christine Elliott taking questions yesterday:
Ontario Asks for More Provincial Border Controls:
The Ontario government is asking Ottawa for enhanced measures for interprovincial travellers. In a letter Monday to the federal ministers of health and public safety, Ontario says there are no measures in place to protect provinces from the spread of COVID-19 variants through interprovincial air travel, an area of federal responsibility. The province is asking for mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for all domestic air travellers entering Ontario, an extension to current rules for international passengers seeking entry into Canada. The letter, which was shared with The Canadian Press, comes as health-care workers from Newfoundland and Labrador are set to arrive in Ontario today, as well as three teams of nurses and medical technicians from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Military Medical Help is on the Way:
Rotating teams of military medical personnel will be deployed to Ontario hospitals and other facilities struggling to keep up with a spike of new COVID-19 infections. The plan also includes providing military aircraft to fly medical professionals from other provinces to Ontario to help with the third wave. The move follows a formal request from the province for military and Canadian Red Cross assistance.
We have approved a request for assistance from Ontario to provide support to their provincial healthcare system against #COVID19. @CanadianForces will provide medical + civilian human health resources within medical care facilities in ON, as well as logistical and admin. support.
— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) April 26, 2021
Medical Help Is On The Way From Newfoundland And Labrador:
Nine health-care professionals from Newfoundland and Labrador are due to arrive in Ontario today. Premier Andrew Furey says his province is responding to Ontario’s call for help in responding to a third wave of COVID-19 that is threatening to overwhelm its hospitals. Furey says he spoke with Premier Doug Ford on the weekend. He previously said health-care workers headed to Ontario would be drawn from volunteers in areas of his province where there are adequate staffing levels.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 24, 2021
A Moment of Silence at Queen’s Park for a Young COVID-19 Victim:
Yesterday the legislature has held a minute of silence to mark the death of a 13-year-old girl in Brampton from COVID-19. Emily Viegas died on Thursday at her home. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown calls the death heart wrenching and horrifying. The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says it’s focusing on supporting staff and students who have been hit by the loss. Premier Ford says the death is “heart-wrenching and a devastating reminder” of what the virus can do. Emily’s father reportedly tried to care for her in the family apartment because he worried the overburdened local hospital would transfer her to a facility far from home.
Flags at Brampton City Hall will be flown at half-mast in memory of Emily Victoria Viegas, a Brampton resident and one of the youngest people in Canada to lose their life to COVID-19. Brampton collectively mourns all those who have passed away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/22NGj8SCDy
— City of Brampton (@CityBrampton) April 26, 2021
Biden is Sending More Vaccine Help:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the U-S will dole out 60-million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to other countries based on need. Psaki says the US is waiting on approval from regulators to share 10-million doses in the coming weeks. The remaining 50-million doses are still in production and likely won’t be subject to approval until May and June. President Joe Biden has said the US hopes to provide more AstraZeneca doses to Canada soon, after an initial loan of 1.5-million doses last month.
The Situation in India:
The chief of the World Health Organization calls India’s recent relentless surge in coronavirus cases beyond heartbreaking. India reported another 320,000 new infections Tuesday, slightly down from Monday’s numbers which capped five straight days of record-breaking numbers. Hospitals are beyond capacity and oxygen tanks and other supplies are running low as more than 100 people in the country succumb to the virus every hour. Canadian opposition leaders Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh are calling on the Trudeau government to send aid to India to help deal with the surge. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday that Canada will stand ready to help useful items, but no plan has been announced yet.
Today, I spoke with Prime Minister @narendramodi and pledged America’s full support to provide emergency assistance and resources in the fight against COVID-19. India was there for us, and we will be there for them.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 26, 2021
The EU is Suing AstraZeneca:
The European Commission says it’s launched legal action against vaccine maker AstraZeneca over supply issues. It says the British firm has not come up with a reliable strategy to ensure a timely delivery of doses as agreed to in a contract with the EU. That contract was for an initial 300-million doses for distribution among the 27 member countries. But only 30-million were delivered in the first quarter of this year.
Another Snag for J&J:
Officials at the University of California, San Francisco say a man in his 30s is recuperating after developing a rare blood clot in his leg 13 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported the condition in 15 people, all women, after eight-million shots of the single-dose vaccine were administered nationally. Federal officials lifted an 11-day pause on the vaccine Friday, saying the benefits outweighed the risks. The J&J vaccine has been approved for use in Canada, with the first shipment is expected to arrive this week.
The number of new COVID-19 infections dropped substantially yesterday. Ontario reported 3,510 new cases and 24 more related deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 1,015 new cases were in Toronto, 909 were in Peel Region, and 391 in York Region. She also said 244 new cases were in Durham Region and 206 in Ottawa. The province says more than 69,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine had been administered since the previous day’s report. Hospitalizations increased sharply, just a day after dropping. There are now 145 more in hospital, 26 more in the ICU and 9 more on a ventilator. 4,057 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 3,510 cases of #COVID19 and over 33,800 tests completed. Locally, there are 1,015 new cases in Toronto, 909 in Peel, 391 in York Region, 244 in Durham and 206 in Ottawa.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) April 26, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
There were just 47 new COVID-19 cases reported yesterday by Region of Waterloo Public Health. That’s less than half of what came down on Sunday. There was a new death, bringing the Regional death toll to 250. The number of active cases dropped by thirty-six to 645. Hospitalizations were up by eight, to 70, with 36 in intensive care.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced 200 new cases yesterday, from the weekend. Wellington had 43 new cases, Dufferin had 43 new cases and Guelph had 114. Despite that large number of new cases, the number of active decreased by three to 588. There are now 27 people hospitalized with seven in the ICU.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Doug Ford via Twitter