Ontario’s science advisers say the province is now experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says that more transmissible virus variants of concern account for almost half of new cases and are driving growth. The group provides independent advice and analysis to the province. It says almost two thirds of Ontario’s public health units are now experiencing exponential growth of the virus.
Premier Ford Weighs In:
Premier Doug Ford is warning people to be very cautious after the province’s COVID-19 science advisory group declared Ontario is in the third wave of the pandemic. The panel says that wave is being driven by more transmissible virus variants, which now account for half of new cases. It adds almost two-thirds of Ontario’s 34 public health units are experiencing exponential growth of COVID-19. The head of the Ontario Registered Nurses’ Association accuses the province of allowing variants to spread by lifting a stay-at-home order too soon, and says she fears Ontario will need to move back into lockdown.
Here is yesterday’s update from Premier Ford:
Now The Vaccine Advisory Committee Claims The AstraZeneca Vaccine is Safe:
A doctor who specializes in infectious diseases says federal officials may have a tough time instilling confidence in Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidance and stressed the vaccine’s safety for those over the age of 65. Dr. Zain Chagla says the message is confusing, as a growing list of European countries suspend their use of the vaccine due to reports linking it to blood clots. Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency both say no link has been proven and the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh the risks. Premier Ford expressed his frustration at the about-face from the committee who recently claimed it was not safe for those over 65, forcing Ontario to completely overhaul it’s vaccination strategy on short notice.
Here is yesterday’s federal update:
The EU Is OK with AstraZeneca:
The European Union’s drug regulator is insisting the benefits of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh any possible risk. The European Medicines Agency says there is no evidence the vaccine causes blood clots. It’s urging governments not to halt use of the vaccine at a time when the pandemic is still taking thousands of lives each day. The message comes as Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization now says there is enough evidence to show the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot is safe and effective for seniors.
Less Than 2% of Canada Has Been Vaccinated:
As the number of COVID-19 variants rises across the country, so too is the number of Canadians getting vaccines in their arms. Another 120,000 people were vaccinated Tuesday nationwide, a day after 125,000 people got shots for the highest single-day total so far. More than 3.27-million doses have been given to date, with nearly 605,000 people — or 1.6 per cent of the population — fully vaccinated. Canada’s chief public health officer says we must still be vigilant about social distancing, masking and all public-health orders. Dr. Theresa Tam notes there are more than 3,400 cases of COVID variants nationwide.
The Moderna Vaccine Goes to Trails on Kids:
Children are about to get in on Moderna’s vaccine studies. The biotech company says upcoming clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine will include Canadian children, though it hasn’t chosen the cities or participants yet. Moderna announced details of its Phase 2/3 study earlier this week with plans to involve 67-hundred-and-50 healthy pediatric participants aged six months to 12 years
We just announced that the first participants have been dosed in the Phase 2/3 study, called the KidCOVE study, of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against COVID-19, in children ages 6 months to less than 12 years. Read more: https://t.co/FpQ2NCcRxR pic.twitter.com/oWZ0UET8e1
— Moderna (@moderna_tx) March 16, 2021
Dr Tam Says The No Gathering Rules Must Remain in Effect:
Canada’s top doctor says now is not the time for Canadians to increase their contact with others in light of a recent rise in average COVID-19 case counts across the country. Dr. Theresa Tam says this upswing combined with an acceleration of new variants of the virus in Canada is cause for concern. She says the most up-to-date stats indicate the percentage of Canadians with immunity to COVID-19 remains low, even as governments have been ramping up their vaccination efforts. And since yesterday’s case numbers reflect the situation in Canada two weeks ago, Tam urged Canadians to continue to keep their bubbles small, or the vaccines won’t have time to take effect. Tam also reassured Canadians that Health Canada remains confident the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe, despite concerns raised in Europe about alleged adverse side-effects, such as blood clots, that may have affected a small number of people who have received the vaccine. Deputy chief health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says the benefits of all vaccines approved for use in Canada greatly outweigh any potential risks.
1/2 #COVID19 key concerns in Canada 🇨🇦 : Over the past several weeks, COVID-19 activity has levelled off at a high level, with national case counts now on the rise, exceeding 3,190 daily cases over the past week (↑9.6% compared to last week). https://t.co/9ChhOtrK0P
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) March 16, 2021
Montreal Rolling Back the Curfew:
As Canada’s chief public health officer is sounding the warning about a third wave of COVID-19 infections hitting Canada, Quebec is moving to ease the curfew in Montreal. Premier Francois Legault says starting today, the overnight curfew in Montreal and its surrounding regions is being pushed back to 9:30 p-m from 8pm. He also announced that his government’s goal is for all adult Quebecers who want a COVID-19 vaccine to get at least one dose by Quebec’s Fete nationale on June 24th.
Mass Vaccination Clinic Opens in Toronto Today:
Toronto’s COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Toronto Congress Centre opens today. The city says the clinic will be open for eligible residents born in 1941 or earlier who have confirmed vaccination appointments. It says up to ten immunizers at a time will work to vaccinate five people per hour at the 55,000 square-foot clinic. The Toronto Congress Centre clinic is one of nine city-operated immunization clinics.
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) March 16, 2021
Ontarians Who Booked An Appointment Will Get Their Shots:
Ontario says 133,000 people aged 80 and older booked their COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Monday despite technical issues. The province’s newly launched COVID-19 vaccine online booking portal and call centre saw long wait times and glitches. Yesterday, an additional 21,000 appointments were booked by noon.
Our immunization booking system successfully scheduled over 133,000 appointments for Ontarians 80+ on the first day! That’s incredible!
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 16, 2021
Ontario Camps Want Free Universal Testing:
The head of the Ontario Camps Association’s COVID-19 task force is urging the province to support a free universal testing program for all campers and staff. Jack Goodman has been working with public health and government officials to create guidelines for the camp season. The owner of Camp New Moon in Baysville says a free testing program could help keep overnight camps open this summer while the pandemic drags on. Day camps were allowed to open with COVID-19 restrictions last year, but overnight camps were ordered to close throughout the summer.
Upper Canada College Suspends In-Person Learning:
A private all-boys school in Toronto has suspended in-class learning after 10 students tested positive for COVID-19. Upper Canada College says there is no confirmation of any transmission with the school. It says it’s moved to online learning until next week in a voluntary, precautionary measure. Students, families and staff have been encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
Advocacy Group Claims LTC Homes Are Losing Staff:
A group representing most of Ontario’s long-term care homes says they are losing staff to other industries. The Ontario Long-Term Care Association says the staffing crisis is worsening now that other companies need people to do infection prevention and control. Staffing shortages have been cited to the province’s long-term care commission as one of the primary reasons COVID-19 had such devastating effects in nursing homes.
During a time when the need for qualified healthcare professionals has never been greater, our government is allowing public colleges greater flexibility to deliver degree programs that meet the needs of our province and students. Learn more: https://t.co/3CPfJWJD4B pic.twitter.com/tTF3S3Chdt
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) March 16, 2021
There were 1,074 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 11 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 313 new cases in Toronto, 199 in Peel Region and 101 in York Region. The province also reported: 62 new hospitalizations. 6 less in the ICU. 7 more on a ventilator. 1,085 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 1,074 cases of #COVID19 and over 28,500 tests completed. Locally, there are 313 new cases in Toronto, 199 in Peel and 101 in York Region.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 1,243,132 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) March 16, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health reported 37 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and no new deaths. The number of active cases declined by five to 306. The Region’s hospitals got a little busier. There are now 29 receiving in-patient care, compared to 27 the previous day. The number of ICU patients increased by one to a total of 9. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed only 5 new cases yesterday. Thanks to twenty one more resolved cases, the number active in the Public Health Unit dropped to just 107. There are 7 people in hospital with 2 in intensive care.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot