Canada’s top doctor says the presence of highly contagious COVID-19 variants in all 10 provinces represents a ticking time bomb, as infections could soar rapidly. Newfoundland and Labrador has seen a flare-up of the mutation first identified in the United Kingdom. The province’s daily case count shot up to 100 last week before dropping down to seven yesterday. The spike prompted lockdowns and caused the province’s chief electoral officer to delay the general election.
Here is yesterday’s federal update:
NDP Criticizing Ford’s Decision To Start Transitioning Back To Business:
Premier Ford says his government won’t hesitate to use an “emergency brake” to swiftly move regions back into lockdown if COVID-19 cases spike. Ford made the comment while defending a decision to lift a stay-home order yesterday for 27 more health regions and transition them back to the colour-coded pandemic restrictions system. But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says it’s clear the province is transitioning to disaster, with medical experts warning of a possible third wave of COVID-19 if stay-at-home orders don’t remain in place. The only regions still under those orders are Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay-Parry Sound.
Measuring the Variants in Ontario:
Approximately seven per cent of all positive COVID-19 cases in Ontario are variants of the virus. That’s according to top health officials after Public Health Ontario began screening all positive swabs for a common mutation this month. Science advisors to the provincial government have said the new variants are poised to take prevalence in Ontario and could lead to a third wave of infections without strict control measures in place. Doctor Barbara Yaffe, associate medical officer of health for Ontario, says people shouldn’t let their guards down as restrictions loosen in most regions this week.
Here is yesterday’s medical update:
No Timelines For Vaccinations Until the Supply is Stable:
Health Minister Christine Elliot says the province doesn’t want to release timelines for expanded COVID-19 vaccinations until there is a reliable supply chain. Elliot says the province knows which age groups it wants to prioritize as it distributes its vaccines. But she says it doesn’t want to give people dates that it might not be able to achieve. She says the impending federal approval of a third vaccine by AstraZeneca could also change the province’s targets.
Trudeau Says Europe Has Promised Not To Delay Canada’s Vaccines:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has again been assured by European leaders, and vaccine manufacturer Moderna, that Canada’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine is secure. Trudeau says he spoke with the chair of Moderna on Monday about the company’s Canadian contract. Canada is also expecting its biggest single shipment of vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech this week, and a bigger one next week.
Touched base with President @vonderLeyen again today. We spoke about the close partnership between Canada and the EU, and about the work we’re doing together to roll out vaccines – she confirmed there should be no delays on shipments coming to Canada. Thanks for the call, Ursula.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 16, 2021
Ontario Makes More Business Eligible for PPE Grants:
The provincial government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for a grant to help offset the costs of buying personal protective equipment. The one-time grant of up to $1,000 dollars had been limited to businesses with two-to-nine employees in eligible sectors — but that has been expanded to include those with up to 19 workers. The expansion came as stay at home orders were lifted in most health regions yesterday — allowing non-essential retail stores to re-open with restrictions. Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli says this grant will allow up to 60,000 more small businesses to qualify for the main street relief grant.
Have you heard? Ontario small businesses with 2-19 employees could be eligible for a one-time grant of up to $1,000 to help with the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment.
— Peter Bethlenfalvy (@PBethlenfalvy) February 16, 2021
Ontario Sending Rapid Tests to Schools:
Ontario school boards are expected to deploy COVID-19 tests in at least five per cent of all schools in their districts starting next week. Education Minister wrote to chairs of school boards yesterday with the government’s expectations for asymptomatic testing. Boards, the ministry and local health units will have input on the schools selected for testing. The testing directive takes effect next Monday in most school boards, while boards in Toronto, Peel and York Region are expected to have plans in place already.
For the past few months the opposition NDP have been critical of the Ford government for not implementing paid sick days for those who need to self isolate. Yesterday Premier Ford set the record straight when he pointed out there is already a program in place for those who need to quarantine:
Today, I wanted to make something very clear: there’s already a program with the federal government that offers 10 paid sick days.
This is an important program and all elected leaders owe it to hardworking Ontarians to raise awareness about it.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) February 16, 2021
Major COVID Violation in the UK:
British police have fined dozens of people for breaking COVID-19 restrictions after officers found 150 guests packed into an illegal nightclub over the weekend. Officers who forced their way into a building in the city of Birmingham on Saturday night discovered the makeshift club with a bar, VIP area and a dance room with a DJ. A police video taken with drones shows people trying to flee from the rooftop. Around 70 people were issued 200-pound fines and the DJ could face a 10,000-pound fine.
Yesterday the province announced 904 new COVID-19 cases and 964 cases from Family Day on Monday. That means Ontario has been below 1,000 new cases for 3-days in-a-row. Province wide, COVID hospitalizations are down to 742 with 292 of those patients in intensive case. There were just 13 new deaths reported yesterday.
Ontario is reporting 904 cases of #COVID19 today and 964 cases reported yesterday. Today, there are 320 new cases in Toronto, 154 in Peel and 118 in York Region.
Over 27,000 tests were completed on February 15th and nearly 30,400 tests on February 14th.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 16, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health released two days worth of COVID-19 data, and it actually wasn’t that bad. There were 63 new cases between the two days. The number of active cases dropped down to 345 and hospitalization were down substantially too. There are now 22 people in hospital. Nine of those are in intensive care. The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph public health unit announced 62 new cases yesterday. There were 10 in Dufferin, 14 in Wellington and the rest were in Guelph. Active cases are down to 167 and there are 13 people currently hospitalized. The death toll remains at 95.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot