Late Friday night Public Health Ontario confirmed 36 cases of a COVID-19 variant first reported in India have been detected in Ontario. Of those, the agency says six were identified through its genomics surveillance program — all of them linked to international travel. It says the remaining 30 cases were detected through airport and border screening efforts. Public health officials across Canada are keeping a close eye on the variant, which is currently designated a variant of interest by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Yesterday, we learned that 36 cases of the B.1617 variant have been detected in Ontario. These new variants didn't swim here.
I’m pleading with the federal government to stop all non-essential travel to Canada before new variants overwhelm our ICU’s completely.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 24, 2021
Vaccine Delivery Schedule:
Canada is expecting delivery this week of nearly two-million doses of COVID-19 vaccine as many areas in the country deal with COVID’s third wave. The federal government says the first shipment of 300,000 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson will arrive in the coming days. The J&J product is the single-shot vaccine. Another million Pfizer shots and 650,000 doses from Moderna are also on the way this week. More than 231,000 vaccines were administered to Canadians on Sunday, making for more than 12-million doses given to date.
Here is Friday’s federal update:
Ministry of Long-Term Care Helping To Free Up Hospital Space:
Ontario’s Ministry of Long-Term Care is trying to free up badly needed hospital beds. It has announced measures aimed at hospital patients waiting for placement in a long-term care facility. The ministry says the province will waive fees for patients who agree to take a spot in a home that may not be their first choice until they’re placed in the facility they want. It says accepting an alternate placement won’t affect a patient’s standing on the waiting list at the home they prefer.
Ontario & Canada are investing over $99.4 million for improvements to air conditioning and fire sprinklers in 95 #LTC homes across Ontario.
— Merrilee Fullerton, MPP (@DrFullertonMPP) April 25, 2021
Toronto Death Toll Now at 3,000:
Toronto passed a grim threshold yesterday, recording more than 3,000 total COVID-19 deaths since the virus arrived in the city. Officials say Toronto has now seen 3,011 people die of COVID-19. Public health officials say the sobering milestone should serve as a reminder to follow public health measures and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The lives lost to this global pandemic here in our city are completely devastating. With this tragic loss we must redouble all of our efforts to bring an end to this pandemic.
Extending my sincerest condolences to the families and friends mourning these losses. https://t.co/m8PC5FYuq0
— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 25, 2021
Two Amazon Warehouses Partially Shut Down in Peel Region:
Two Amazon warehouses in Peel region were partially shuttered over the weekend. The local public health unit is closing businesses with five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a two-week period. The partial closures could last as long as 10 days. — though Amazon says the measure is unnecessary. Later today Toronto is expected to announce their own closures.
America Looking to Help India:
America’s top infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci says the US is looking at ways to boost aid to India, including COVID-19 vaccines. India has been overwhelmed with surging infections, reporting 349,691 confirmed cases over the past day. The US is under pressure to provide vaccines to other countries, but President Joe Biden has said that won’t happen until America has enough supplies at home.
Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need. https://t.co/SzWRj0eP3y
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 25, 2021
Millions of Americans Skipping Their Second Shot:
More than five million people who have received their first COVID-19 shot skipped out on their second dose. According to the New York Times, that estimate represents nearly eight percent of the American population who received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Some people have opted out of the second dose because they believe they’re sufficiently protected with a single shot. Others are fearful of the flulike side effects.
Europe to Allow Vaccinated American Tourists:
Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to visit Europe this summer, according to a report by The New York Times. Americans have been banned from nonessential travel to the EU for over a year due to the pandemic. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission (the EU’s executive branch) was interviewed by the Times in Brussels yesterday, and pointed to America’s quick rollout of the vaccines that were also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). All three of the vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — were also approved by the EMA.
Tragedy Unfolding in India:
India’s surging Covid second wave has so overwhelmed crematoriums that grieving families are being forced to burn victims in their own gardens. The country announced a record 349,661 infections and 2,767 deaths in 24 hours and bodies are continuing to pile up, with experts predicting the surge to continue for weeks. In Delhi, 348 deaths were recorded on Friday, one every four minutes, and in the southern state of Karnataka, the government has been forced to allow families to cremate or bury victims in their own farms, land or gardens.
Atlantic Canada Cases:
Atlantic Canada’s new COVID hot spot is central Nova Scotia, which reported a record 63 new infections on Sunday. That was the province’s highest daily case total since the pandemic started last spring. Most of the new cases are in Nova Scotia’s central zone, which includes Halifax. Premier Iain Rankin says fines for breaching public health orders will be doubled to two-thousand dollars, noting he was infuriated to hear police broke up a party early Saturday and issued 22 tickets.
Details are coming together for the Newfoundland and Labrador contingent of health care professionals heading to Ontario to offer COVID-19 help. Talking to Premier @fordnation over the weekend, and expect to provide an update tomorrow – looks like they’ll be on their way Tuesday!
— Andrew Furey (@FureyAndrew) April 25, 2021
Canadian Pilots Could Lose Their Edge:
A senior air force officer says Canada’s military pilots are in danger of losing their edge as they lose training time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Brigadier-General Iain Huddleston says the pandemic is also making it more difficult to obtain spare parts for some aircraft. Meanwhile, an internal survey conducted last year found many military members struggling to stay physically and mentally fit.
Daily COVID-19 case counts remain high in Ontario, though there was a bit of a drop yesterday. The province reported 3,947 new COVID-19 infections and another 24 deaths. There are now more than 2,100 people in hospitals, with 851 in intensive care.
Ontario is reporting 3,947 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 46,700 tests completed. Locally, there are 1,136 new cases in Toronto, 901 in Peel, 406 in York Region, 209 in Ottawa and 207 in Durham.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) April 25, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Region of Waterloo Public Health announced 107 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 121 on Saturday. There were no new deaths but hospitalizations shot up to 62, with 27 in the ICU. The number of active cases is up to 681. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health still does not report weekend numbers. On Friday there were 63 new cases. Heading into the week there are 591 active cases. There are 23 people hospitalized with 6 in intensive care.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot