Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the province is still deciding whether schools that remain restricted to online learning will reopen to students as scheduled next week. Premier Ford says the goal is still to get all students back in class by February 10th. But he says that might not be possible if case counts jump. Ford says an announcement is expected in the next day or two on a return to in-class learning at schools in five hot spots, as well as several other regions.
Teaching Students Can Now Be Hired as Supply Teachers:
Students in teacher education programs will be allowed to work in supply positions this year. The Ontario government says the change is temporary and aims to address educator shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province says it could mean up to two-thousand more supply teachers available for positions across Ontario. There are criteria for those who want to participate, including that they be enrolled in a current program and have successfully completed a portion of it.
The South African Variant Is Now In Ontario:
Ontario has recorded its first case of the COVID-19 South African variant in Peel Region. The province’s top doctor says the person neither travelled nor had any known contact with anyone who travelled. Dr. David Williams says data from South Africa shows the variant may be more infectious. The province also reported a total of 69 total cases of the U.K. variant as of Sunday.
Friends, we've made a lot of progress in our fight against COVID-19, but we cant take anything for granted.
If these new strains take hold, the consequences will be dire and the sacrifices each Ontarian has made, will have been for nothing. pic.twitter.com/2SmSTpQki1
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) February 1, 2021
The UK Variant Is Spreading In Ontario:
Numerous cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in York Region and at a Toronto meat-packing plant. York Region health officials say they’ve confirmed 39 cases of the variant linked to 24 households, with close contact being the largest factor in the spread. Toronto Public Health says it also believes a COVID-19 outbreak at a meat production facility is linked to the variant — with two cases testing positive for the strain out of a total of 78 confirmed cases. It says there is also evidence of secondary transmission of the variant to household members of one plant employee, and there is no evidence any of the cases are linked to travel.
Here is yesterday’s technical update:
Trudeau to Announce Canada Will Start Making Vaccines:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce an agreement that would lead to producing COVID-19 vaccines within Canada. Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne tells The Canadian Press the government is moving quickly to end its reliance on foreign production for the most sought-after product in the world. The deal could help Trudeau tamp down the political headache caused by Canada’s skeletal vaccine production capacity.
There were 1,969 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 36 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 886 of those new cases are in Toronto. 1 less person was in hospital, 2 less were in the ICU, and 8 more people were placed on a ventilator. The province also indicated there were 2,132 more resolved cases.
Ontario is reporting 1,969 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 30,400 tests completed. Locally, there are 886 new cases in Toronto, 330 in Peel and 128 in York Region.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 341,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 1, 2021
It Appears The WHO is Still Defending China:
Officials at the World Health Organization are pushing back against suggestions that China has been less than transparent about how the COVID-19 outbreak began. The WHO’s team arrived in Wuhan last month after a months-long delay to investigate the animal origins of the coronavirus. COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove says the team, comprised of experts from 10 countries, should be given the space it needs to carry out the scientific study.
Poll Finds Majority Support New Travel Restrictions:
According to a new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, a vast majority of Canadians support Ottawa’s move to tighten restrictions on international travel. The online survey found that 86 per cent of respondents agreed with the decision, which suspends flights to most sun destinations while requiring passengers to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense upon arrival in Canada. What’s more, some 87 per cent say the restrictions didn’t go far enough, and international travel should be banned pending several consecutive days of reduced COVID-19 numbers.
Beginning today, we are conducting mandatory #COVID19 testing for all international travelers arriving at @TorontoPearson. This is part of our six-point plan to stop the spread of #COVID19 variants in our communities.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 1, 2021
Federal Health Minister Admits She Doesn’t Know:
Canada’s health minister says it’s not yet clear how COVID-19 vaccinations will enable people to get back to more normal lives. Patty Hajdu told the House of Commons yesterday there are still unanswered questions around whether those who are vaccinated can still transmit the coronavirus. Hajdu’s comments come as Pfizer resumes shipments of its vaccine to Canada, after a week-long delay as it worked to increase vaccine production at its European plant. Federal officials have expressed concerns about the possibility of future disruptions in vaccine deliveries from Europe, after the continent announced new export controls.
We’re focused on keeping Canadians safe and ensuring the supply of vaccines to Canada continues. I spoke with Commissioner @SKyriakidesEU today and was reassured that our vaccine supply chains with Europe will remain open.
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) January 31, 2021
Canada Weighing Options If European Union Doesn’t Deliver Vaccines:
Canada is putting together possible options for leverage if Europe breaks its promise not to cut off Canada’s shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. International Trade Minister Mary Ng says that despite multiple assurances from European leaders that new export controls will not affect Canada’s vaccine shipments, there has been nothing in writing. Steve Verheul with Global Affairs Canada says if Europe doesn’t live up to its promise, there will be a full analysis of possible options to push back.
— Canada Trade (@CanadaTrade) February 2, 2021
Dr Fauci Weighs in on The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine:
America’s top infectious disease expert says Johnson and Johnson’s forthcoming single-shot COVID-19 vaccine will be very useful, despite its lagging efficacy rate compared to other vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it has proven very effective at preventing death and hospitalization, is relatively cheap to manufacture and is easy to transport. The shot is expected to be the next one to receive emergency authorization from U-S regulators, and the company has launched the process of having Health Canada approve their vaccines.
Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Barrie Retirement Home:
Residents’ family members have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against a long-term care home in Barrie hit by a deadly outbreak of COVID-19. More than 50 residents of Roberta Place have died, and all but one resident has tested positive for the virus — including some cases of the more contagious UK variant. The lawsuit claims Roberta Place failed to have basic infection prevention methods in place, including keeping COVID-positive residents isolated from others. The suit — which has not been tested in court — also alleges the facility didn’t offer enough personal protective equipment.
More Church Service Charges:
Police allege a church in Aylmer has again breached provincial pandemic rules by holding an in-person service. Investigators say the service took place indoors at the Church of God on Sunday and was, “in clear contravention of emergency orders”. Police have charged a 57-year-old man and a 26-year-old man with hosting an event exceeding the number of people permitted. The church as a corporation is also charged.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
42 new COVID-19 cases were announced yesterday by Region of Waterloo Public Health, along with another death. The local death toll is now 204. The number of active cases dropped again, down to 529. As of yesterday’s update there are 39 people receiving treatment in area hospitals with 14 of those in intensive care. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph saw their number of active cases drop over the weekend. The public health unit announced 98 cases from the weekend, but active cases dropped down to 386. There are 13 people hospitalized with COVID-19. 65 of the 98 new cases were in Guelph while just 8 were in Dufferin.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot