It may feel like the pandemic has been going on forever, but today is the one-year anniversary of the first known case of COVID-19 here in Canada. The 56-year-old man had arrived at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto with what seemed to be mild pneumonia. Since Patient Zero, there have been more than 737,000 cases of the virus in Canada, and nearly 19,000 deaths.
Here is a throwback to January, 2020:
COVID Numbers Are Trending Down:
There’s a down trend in COVID-19 cases in key hotpot regions of the country. Canada’s chief public health officer says there’s been an improvement in the numbers in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. But Doctor Theresa Tam says it’s too soon to be sure that current measures are strong and broad enough to maintain the lower caseloads. Officials in Nunavut are recording a surge in new COVID-19 cases after weeks without any cases. And New Brunswick’s Edmundston region is now under a strict lockdown to limit the spread of the virus.
1/3 #COVID19 key concerns in ?? : a recent downward trend in daily case counts, is primarily being driven by decreasing cases in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario & Quebec; but renewed activity is being seen elsewhere…
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) January 24, 2021
Big Box Blitz:
Ontario is due out with the results of a weekend-long expansion of its ”inspection blitz” of big-box stores to ensure they were following COVID-19 guidelines. The workplace inspections, which started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, stretched out to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham. Preliminary figures from Saturday show inspectors went into 310 big-box stores and issued 34 tickets and 53 orders. Overall, inspectors found the stores were only at 64 per cent compliance.
Canada Already Running Very Low on Vaccines:
More than 1.1-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered so far across Canada. But the provinces and territories have now used nearly 73 per cent of their available supply — and no vaccines were delivered over the weekend. Saskatchewan has completely exhausted its reserve. Ontario — Canada’s most populous province — has administered the most doses, 280-thousand-573.
Reopening the Schools:
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says 100,000 students will return to the classroom in parts of southern Ontario today. That’s because schools in seven public health units have been given the green light to reopen. The province is implementing more safety measures in areas where schools are reopening, including requiring students in grades 1 through 3 to wear masks indoors and when physical distancing isn’t possible outside as well. The province has said that schools in the five hot spot regions of Windsor-Essex, Peel, York, Toronto and Hamilton won’t be reopening until at least February 10th.
The Canadian Military Will Assist in Vaccinating Northern First Nations:
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are being sent to northern Ontario to help with vaccine distribution. They’re going to support vaccination efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The move comes after a request from the province for assistance in getting vaccines to First Nation communities.
Our government will always be there to support the fight against #COVID19. We have approved a request for assistance from @ONGov for @CanadianForces to support vaccine distribution in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) January 24, 2021
Yesterday Ontario announced 2,417 new COVID-19 cases after just 48,900 tests conducted. There were also 50 deaths. Hospitalizations and ICU patients decreased.
Ontario is reporting 2,417 cases of #COVID19 and over 48,900 tests completed. Locally, there are 785 new cases in Toronto, 404 in Peel, 215 in York Region and 121 in Niagara.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 280,573 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) January 24, 2021
Another COVID Milestone America:
The US has hit another grim new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been more than 25-million confirmed cases of the virus in the country, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University. The US has the most cases and fatalities in the world by far, accounting for roughly one of every four cases reported globally and one of every five deaths.
What Happened In Barrie is from the UK COVID-19 Strain:
The variant of COVID-19 that’s ripped through a long-term care home in Barrie has been identified. Public health officials say it’s the highly contagious strain of the virus that was first detected in the UK. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says 32 residents of the Roberta Place Retirement Lodge have died since the outbreak began on January 8th. It says 127 residents have been sickened, along with 84 staff members. Health officials say the program to vaccinate all eligible residents and staff at this and other area retirement homes is being accelerated.
COVID Claims Another Business:
The economic disaster brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another victim – Belgian chocolate maker Godiva. The Turkish-owned chocolatier has announced that it will shutter all of its 128 brick-and-mortar locations, including cafes and retail boutiques, across North America by the spring. Two years ago, the company set out on an ambitious plan to open some 2,000 cafes worldwide by 2025. But on Wednesday it was announced that the company would seek to either sell its locations or simply close them down.
Canadian Tax Payers:
Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says since the start of the pandemic, urgent requests from people in dire financial straits are up 120 per cent. Francois Boileau says that shows the urgent need for the Canada Revenue Agency to improve services ahead of tax season, with the global health crisis leaving thousands of Canadians struggling financially. He says too many Canadians still spend hours trying to get through to a call centre agent as they try to determine if they need to repay some of the Canada Emergency Response Benefits they received last year. Boileau notes there are complaints of waiting five hours or longer to speak with an agent.
COVID Veterinary Issues:
COVID-19 lockdowns across the country have led to a flood of new pet owners who have rushed to obtain companionship while stuck at home. But they are now struggling to get veterinary care for their new furry friends. Dr. Enid Stiles, the president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, says there are only 10-thousand vets in Canada and many, including her practice in Montreal, have had to close their doors to the new patients.
Mexico’s President Tests Positive:
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he has tested positive for COVID-19. He made the announcement as his country registers record levels of infections and deaths. Lopez Obrador has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s COVID-19 pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public. He wrote on Twitter that his symptoms are mild and he’s being treated for the virus.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health reported 35 new COVID-19 cases yesterday but the number of active cases decreased to 780, thanks to a large number of recovered cases. There are currently 41 cases hospitalized with 13 in the ICU. The death toll is at 189. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 70 new cases on Friday but still do not report cases on weekends. As of Friday, there are 460 active cases in the PHU with 11 people hospitalized.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: The World Health Organization