Multiple Regions are Moving into Different Colour Zones Today – Full COVID-19 Update

Two Ontario regions are now back in lockdown while seven others will see restrictions ease. Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka are now back in the grey zone to combat rising COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile measures will loosen in various degrees in Niagara Region; Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce health units. The government lifted a stay-at-home order for most of the province two weeks ago and moved the majority of health units back to its colour-coded restrictions system.

The AstraZeneca Vaccine Starts Arriving in Canada This Week:

Doses of Canada’s third approved COVID-19 vaccines could start arriving this week. Health Canada announced on Friday that it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, and a senior government official tells The Canadian Press the first shipments could be in Canada by Wednesday, although the delivery has not been confirmed. The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently expecting about 445,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech this week.

Here is Premier Ford commenting on Friday:

The COVID Hotels Aren’t So Nice After-All:

People who are trying to comply with Canada’s strict new requirements for international travellers are facing difficulties. Many say they have endured long wait times on the government phone line set up for people to book the mandatory hotel quarantine stays. Vancouver resident Dr. Rosa Wu says her husband tried three times and waited nearly 10-hours to get through to an agent. In Toronto, multiple videos have surfaced on social media that show very poor quality looking meals being served and complaints about a lack of bottled water. Some travellers were told they would only receive water with meals and to otherwise drink tap water.

Explaining the PPE Shortage Last Year:

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the restocking of Ontario’s PPE supply prior to COVID-19 was held up when the province switched to a new procurement system. Elliott testified before the commission examining COVID-19’s impact on long-term care. In her testimony, which was released Friday night, the minister said she expected the stockpile would be replenished after the expired PPE was destroyed. She says she didn’t realize at the time the process was held up by the change to a centralized procurement system.

Toronto Homeless Shelters Will Get Vaccinated This Week:

The city of Toronto will start administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents of homeless shelters as of this week. Advocates had been pushing for such a move for weeks. Inner City Health Associates medical director Doctor Andrew Bond says the nature of shelters leave homeless people vulnerable to outbreaks. Bond says the only way to beat an outbreak is through vaccination.

Preparing for Vaccine Hesitancy:

As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout ramps up week by week, some may remain hesitant about getting a shot. Doctors and scientists are addressing issues like misinformation and medical racism in an effort to remedy that. Infectious diseases researcher Tara Moriarty has been hosting nightly Zoom sessions for anyone who has questions about whether they should be immunized. Experts who speak various languages are part of the project.

Planning Another Pandemic Graduation:

Some Ontario schools are already planning their graduation ceremonies. But the events will be held virtually, as the COVID-19 pandemic makes in-person celebrations tricky. While most high school graduations are still a few months away, some boards are already thinking about online events to mark the occasion that typically takes place in June. In Toronto, Canada’s largest school board says it’s expecting to have graduation ceremonies take place online but is giving individual schools some flexibility in the matter.

WestJet Layoffs:

Negotiations are ongoing between WestJet and the union representing its pilots, even as layoff notices go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement. On February 5th, WestJet announced it would lay off 120 cabin crew members as of March 2nd, blaming the measure on the lack of flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. A spokeswoman for the airline isn’t saying how many pilots are affected by the job losses.


Vaccine Tourism:

Health experts in Canada are decrying so-called vaccine tourism. They say executives who engage in it show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a lack of business acumen. Their comments came after the head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mark Machin, stepped down after admitting to travelling to Dubai to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts say decisions to travel abroad for vaccines also raise questions about the culture a person expects to cultivate in their company.

Update on the American Vaccination Effort:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed almost 73 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country as of Saturday, with more than 96 million doses distributed.  The tally is for both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, both of which involve two doses.   In total, some 72,806,180 doses had been administered out of 96,402,290 doses.

Strict New Measurers Back in Place in PEI:

Strict new measures to control COVID-19 kicked in yesterday in Prince Edward Island. They limit gathering sizes and social circles. They also prohibit indoor dining and receptions for weddings and funerals, while limiting occupancy in retail stores and gyms to 50 per cent. The province reported six new cases of the virus yesterday, for a total of 127 since the pandemic began.

Ontario Numbers:

Over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the province this weekend. Ontario reported 1,062 cases new cases on Sunday, based on 49,200 tests completed. On Saturday there were 1,185 new cases. There are currently 627 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario. 289 are in the ICU with 185 on a ventilator. There were 20 new deaths reported yesterday. As of this weekend, there have been over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 in the province since the pandemic began.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

The COVID numbers continue to climb in Waterloo Region. Yesterday Public Health reported 50 new cases. There were 44 new cases on Saturday and 3 new deaths. Active cases now sit at 410. That is almost 100 more than this time last week. The local death toll is at 227. 34 cases are currently hospitalized with six of those in the ICU. On Friday Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced 27 new cases. Heading into this week there are 140 active cases with 7 in hospital.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Government of Ontario via Twitter


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