Ford To Announce A Province Wide Lockdown Starting Saturday – Full COVID-19 Update

Ford To Announce A Province Wide Lockdown Starting Saturday – Full COVID-19 Update

Multiple reports say today Premier Ford will announce a province-wide lockdown, lasting a month. Internal government sources told Global News that all regions of Ontario will move into the Grey Zone starting at 12:01am on Saturday. It will mean that restaurants are shutting down for in-person service and will only be able to offer takeout and delivery. Essential retail stores will remain open at 50% capacity and non-essential retail will stay open at 25% capacity. Gyms and personal services will be shut down.  The official announcement is expected today at 1pm. The lockdown is said to be necessary because of hospital capacity. There are now more COVID-19 patients in Ontario intensive care units than at any other point in the pandemic. Critical Care Services Ontario counted 421 hospital patients with COVID-related critical illness as of midnight yesterday.

School Shutdowns:

Across Ontario multiple school boards have advised their staff and students to take everything home with them when school ends today. Schools are entering a 4-day Easter weekend. That is followed by 4-days back in school and then Spring Break. Many are speculating that next week students will do distance learning for the 4-days leading up to Spring Break. Nothing is confirmed and boards are waiting for an announcement from the Education Minister.

Canadian Numbers:

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country is creeping ever closer to the one-million mark, having surpassed 982,000. There were over 5,500 new cases reported Wednesday. And there were 33 new reported deaths. Ontario announced the most new cases in the country with over 2,300 and a record high 421 COVID-patients in hospital ICU’s. Quebec and British Columbia each reported just over 1,000 new cases yesterday. That was a record high for BC, which also breached the 100,000 mark for total infections.

Pfizer Says Their Vaccine Is Highly Effective For Kids Over 12:

Pfizer Canada wants Health Canada to approve the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12. It is planning to ask for federal approval after receiving the preliminary results of a small clinical trial on 2,300 American children in the 12-to-15-year-old age group. Not a single one of them who received the vaccine developed COVID-19.

The Deficit Is Worse Than We Thought:

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux is estimating the federal pandemic response will push the deficit up to $363.4-billion-dollars. He points out that figure should fall over time as emergency spending measures wind down. Giroux’s latest report finds the economy is performing better than he expected, leading his office to anticipate that federal finances will become sustainable again.

Canada Is Getting A Flu Vaccine Manufacturing Facility:

With help from the federal and Ontario governments, French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur is going to build a new influenza vaccine facility in Toronto. Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and other federal and provincial officials say it will help bolster Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity. The federal government says the new facility will be able to produce enough vaccine doses to support the entire Canadian population within about six months of the World Health Organization identifying a pandemic flu strain.

The U of W Outbreak Grows Again:

The University of Waterloo reported five more COVID-19 cases yesterday, linked to the ongoing outbreak which is now affecting all residence buildings at the Waterloo campus.  There are now 27 cases connected to the outbreak.  The schools says they have implemented infection control measures and are taking guidance from public health. Meanwhile, Wilfred Laurier reported another new case yesterday. It’s another student that lives in res. The source of the outbreak is said to be off-campus gatherings for St Patrick’s Day.

Dr Tam Sounds Alarm Bells Over Variants:

With the number of COVID-19 variant cases climbing across the country, chief public health officer Doctor Theresa Tam says the next few weeks may be the most challenging yet. While Tam says that vaccine coverage is increasing and immunization programs are gaining momentum, it is vital for everyone — even those who have received a jab — to continue following public health recommendations. She says more information is needed on the shots’ ability to prevent transmission.

Part of Quebec Going Back Into Lockdown:

Three cities in Quebec will go under lockdown today as the province tries to contain a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases. Premier Francois Legault calls the situation in Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau alarming. Schools and non-essential businesses will close and the curfew will be moved ahead to 8pm for at least 10 days.

Older People are the Ones Spreading COVID Misinformation Online:

Research published by the Ontario Medical Association finds six per cent of provincial residents are spreading misinformation about the pandemic online. The study by Advanced Symbolics also finds the vast majority are aged 55 to 64 and many posters had been accessing right-leaning websites and US politics blogs. The study applied artificial intelligence technology to Twitter posts dating back a year from March 24th. It found engagement was highest in eastern Ontario communities, including Ottawa, its surrounding areas and rural areas.

No Flu Season This Year:

Chances are you haven’t heard of anyone you know coming down with the flu this year. Federal officials have recorded just 66 confirmed cases as of March 20th — as opposed to the average of more than 43,000. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the case numbers are so low they haven’t even met the threshold to declare that flu season has started.

Russia Approves A COVID Vaccine for Pets:

Russia has approved what it says is the world’s first coronavirus vaccine for pets. The country’s Federal Service for Veterinary Supervision says the Carnivac-Cov vaccine underwent clinical trials on dogs, cats, mink and other animals starting last October. Mass production of the injectable vaccine could be launched as early as next month.

Ontario Numbers:

Across Ontario yesterday there were 2,333 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, based on over 52,000 tests completed. There were also 15 new deaths. 21 more people were hospitalized in the 24-hour period. 9 more patients are in the ICU and 3 more are on a ventilator.  1,973 more cases were marked as resolved.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health announced 46 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. That’s almost double Wednesday’s total. Hospitalizations dropped by four to a total of 21 with 6 in the ICU. Active cases only rose by six to 305.

Public Health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph confirmed 16 new cases yesterday along with 16 more resolved cases. That means active cases remains at 140. Broken down: 1 new case was in Wellington, 1 in Dufferin and 14 in Guelph. There are still just 4 people hospitalized. The death toll remains unchanged at 106.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot

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