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Canada COVID-19: Variants could fuel surge of 20,000 cases daily if restrictions eased, federal officials warn

22:17  19 february  2021
22:17  19 february  2021 Source:   msn.com

What are the coronavirus variants and how should we respond to them? Your COVID-19 questions answered

  What are the coronavirus variants and how should we respond to them? Your COVID-19 questions answered CBC readers want to know about the coronavirus variants causing concern around the globe. Here's what the experts have to say.Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Wednesday that variant strains of the coronavirus had been found in eight provinces, and that they could quickly reverse the gains the country has made in recent weeks in the battle against COVID-19.

a hand holding a bottle: A woman wearing a face mask shows three vials with different vaccines against COVID-19 by (L-R) Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna. © Provided by Ottawa Citizen A woman wearing a face mask shows three vials with different vaccines against COVID-19 by (L-R) Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

What you need to know, at a glance

  • New federal modelling indicates COVID-19 variants could fuel a surge of 20,000 new cases per day by mid-March if public health restrictions are relaxed further
  • There are now fewer than 33,000 active cases in Canada, a 60 per cent drop from a month ago.
  • Even with current restrictions, the spread of the variants could push Canada’s caseload to more than 10,000 new diagnoses per day by April
  • Federal government extends 12 weeks of eligibility to the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
  • Ontario reported 47 deaths and 1,150 new COVID-19 cases Friday
  • Hotspots continue to be Toronto (376 new cases), Peel (264 cases) and York (108)
  • Shutdowns extended in Toronto, Peel and North Bay/Parry Sound for two more weeks
  • There were 12 new cases in Eastern Ontario, one each in Hastings and Kingston, four in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and three in Renfrew County.
  • Hospitalizations have declined, with 698 patients now in Ontario hospitals, 269 in ICU and 190 on ventilators
  • There are 37 more cases of the UK variant, for a total of 385 known cases
  • One case of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant was removed after verification. There are nine confirmed cases of the variant and one case of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
  • 16,967 vaccine doses were administered bringing the total to 518,834 doses.
  • There have been 290,771 total cases in Ontario since the beginning of the pandemic
  • 273,401 cases are resolved, 1,255 of them in the previous 24 hours
  • Ottawa Public Health reported 65 new cases and no new deaths on Friday
  • Hospital admissions rose: there are now 21 patients, four in ICU.
  • Of the daily tests completed in Ottawa on Thursday, 4.5 per cent were positive
  • There have been 14,216 total cases in Ottawa with 13,342 resolved.
  • There have been 435 related deaths in Ottawa.
  • There are 439 active cases in the city.
  • Quebec reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday
  • 14 new deaths were reported, including one over the previous 24 hours.
  • There are 24 fewer people in hospital, for a total of 723 patients. There are 127 people in ICU, a drop of two.
  • Outaouais saw 19 new cases, bringing the pandemic total to 6,106.

New federal forecasts project that COVID-19 variants could fuel a surge of 20,000 new cases per day by mid-March if public health restrictions are relaxed further.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021

  The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021 The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday Feb. 13, 2021. There are 823,353 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 823,353 confirmed cases (36,656 active, 765,469 resolved, 21,228 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,047 new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 96.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,868 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,124. There were 66 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 526 new reported deaths.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released modelling Friday suggesting that while infections continue to decline nationally, the spread of virus mutations threatens to reverse that progress.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there are currently fewer than 33,000 active cases in Canada, a 60 per cent drop compared to a month ago.

But with COVID-19 variants detected in 10 provinces, Tam says Canada may not be able to avoid a rapid acceleration of the epidemic without continued vigilance.

Even with current restrictions, the spread of the variants could push Canada’s caseload to more than 10,000 new diagnoses per day by April, according to the projections.

But the forecasts suggest that Canada could control the outbreak with enhanced public health measures.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021

  The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. There are 831,577 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 831,577 confirmed cases (35,669 active, 774,511 resolved, 21,397 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,388 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 93.85 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,780 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,969.There were 54 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 488 new reported deaths.

“We are at a critical point in the pandemic and our efforts have begun to tip the balance in our favour,” Tam told reporters.

“Protecting our progress and limiting the impact of variants of concern will require stronger action, with a combination of enhanced public health measures and strict adherence to individual precautions.”

The forecasts suggest that Canada could control the outbreak with enhanced public health measures, such as restrictions, closures and community-based control protocols.

“Measures must be stronger, stricter and sustained long enough to suppress rapid epidemic growth of variants of concern.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is adding 12 weeks of eligibility to two key benefits for unemployed workers and parents at home with children.

The extra life for the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will raise the maximum number of weeks available to 38 from 26.

Why are the variants more transmissible? Your COVID-19 questions answered

  Why are the variants more transmissible? Your COVID-19 questions answered Canadian scientists answer why and how the coronavirus variants are thought to spread more easily and quickly between people.Viruses mutate all the time. Many of the mutations are inconsequential, virologists say.

Trudeau also says the federal sickness benefit will be expanded to four weeks from two so workers can stay home if they’re feeling ill, or have to isolate because of COVID-19.

And employment insurance eligibility is also getting stretched, allowing people who qualify to claim up to 50 weeks, rather than the 26 the Liberals proposed when the system restarted in late September.

The decision comes hours after labour groups warned the government of a looming benefits cliff late next month when Canadians receiving EI or the recovery benefits would start maxing out their eligibility with job prospects bleak or non-existent.

Vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech now say their COVID-19 vaccine can safely be stored in regular freezers for up to two weeks, potentially easing some of the difficulty getting the vaccine distributed outside of major cities.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been the trickiest to handle because until now the companies said it had to be kept frozen between -60C and -80C until shortly before it is thawed and injected.

The companies asked the U.S. to adjust the vaccine’s emergency-use authorization to note the temperature change Friday and a Canadian spokeswoman says they intend to ask Health Canada to do so in the next few weeks.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Feb. 22, 2021

  The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday Feb. 22, 2021. There are 849,517 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 849,517 confirmed cases (31,164 active, 796,630 resolved, 21,723 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,887 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,328 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,904. There were 49 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Health Canada regulators are already in talks with the companies about the matter and will be ready to make a decision when the request comes.

Canada bought dozens of ultracold freezers to help provinces properly store the Pfizer vaccine and chose not to use this vaccine for the territories or other remote locations because of the freezer requirements.

In documents filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer and BioNTech say further testing shows the vaccine can remain stable for up to two weeks in temperatures between -15C and -25C, which is typical of more common freezers, including those used in pharmacies and medical clinics.

chart, histogram:  Credit Public Health Agency of Canada © Supplied Credit Public Health Agency of Canada

Provincial

Shutdown measures in Toronto, Peel, and in the North Bay-Parry Sound district will extend until at least Monday, Mar. 8, the government said Friday, based on “key public health indicators and following consultation with the local medical officers of health.”

While the Peel and Toronto regions have seen a reduction in COVID-19 transmission in recent weeks, daily case rates are still well above the provincial average.

Peel is currently seeing a rate of 83.4 cases per 100,000 people, while in Toronto the rate is 67.9 cases per 100,000 people.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021

  The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. There are 855,126 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 855,126 confirmed cases (30,393 active, 802,926 resolved, 21,807 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,863 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 79.97 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,945 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,992. There were 46 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 376 new reported deaths.

North Bay-Parry Sound district has seen its case rate increase by 11.5 per cent to 14.6 cases per 100,000 people in that same period.

Variants of concern also remain a “serious risk” to community transmission and health system capacity, officials stated.

Public health regions returning to the framework are required to stay in their colour-coded level for at least two weeks, and the government will assess whether the region should stay where it is or be moved to a different level.

Regions may be moved to a higher level within the two-week window, officials stated, based on the indicators and thresholds outlined in the provincial framework.

Ontario’s “emergency brake” policy also allows chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams to “immediately” advise moving any region into “Grey” (Lockdown) status.

“While the health indicators have improved enough to allow us to return an additional region to the framework, we are not yet at the point where we can safely transition back the remainder of the province,” Williams said Friday. “Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with regardless of which level of the framework you are in.”

Ontario reported 47 deaths and 1,150 new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday. There were 1,038 cases reported Thursday.

The Greater Toronto Area remains a provincial hotspot with 376 new cases in Toronto, 264 in Peel, and 108 in York region.

Coronavirus: 11 new cases in London-Middlesex; 8 in Elgin-Oxford, 10 in Sarnia-Lambton

  Coronavirus: 11 new cases in London-Middlesex; 8 in Elgin-Oxford, 10 in Sarnia-Lambton As of Friday, the region's pandemic case tally stands at 6,143, of which 5,871 have resolved and 181 have died. The most recent death occurred on Feb. 12. All 11 of Friday's new cases are from London, with one aged 19 or younger, four in their 20s, one in their 40s, three in their 50s, and two in their 30s. No cases were reported involving anyone in their 30s or over the age of 70. Exposure source data is pending or undetermined for seven cases, while two cases each are listed as being due to close contact and to outbreak.

The province also reported a spike in confirmed cases in Ottawa, with 73 new cases. The province reported 37 new cases in Ottawa a day earlier.

There are often discrepancies between Ontario’s daily case counts and those logged by local public health units while the province is completing its data migration. Ottawa Public Health is using its own system in the meantime, which pulls local data each afternoon and reports the numbers around 12:30 p.m. the following day. OPH says its data is typically the most up-to-date.

There were 12 cases confirmed in Eastern Ontario, which includes Cornwall, one case in Hastings, one in Kingston, four new cases in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and three new cases in Renfrew County.

There were 65,372 tests completed in the previous 24-hour period, with a provincial average 2.1 per cent positivity rate.

Hospitalizations have gradually declined, with 698 patients now in Ontario hospitals, 269 in ICU and 190 requiring ventilators.

There are 37 more cases of the highly-contagious B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, and there are now 385 known cases of that variant of concern in the province.

One case of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant was subtracted from the provincial database, which Public Health Ontario explains is due to data corrections during the variant confirmation process. There are nine known cases of that variant, and there remains one known case of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

On the vaccination front, another 16,967 doses were administered in the previous 24-hour period, and Ontario has now administered 518,834 total doses.

There have now been 290,771 total cases in Ontario since the beginning of the pandemic and of those, 273,401 are now considered resolved. Another 1,255 cases were resolved in the previous 24-hour period.

Beginning next week in Ontario, provincial offences officers will be visiting businesses in regions that have reopened in Grey, Red and Orange zones — including Ottawa and Eastern Ontario — to ensure businesses are adhering to capacity limits, screening and masking requirements.

21 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 29 in Aylmer on Sunday

  21 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 29 in Aylmer on Sunday Southwestern Public Health reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 29 are from Aylmer. Meanwhile, London and Middlesex saw more than 20 cases for the first time since Feb. 22.The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported 21 new coronavirus cases and 11 recoveries on Sunday.

Officers will focus on businesses that were closed during the province-wide lockdown, and will include stores, gyms and personal care services, according to a statement.

“As we allow more businesses to reopen and get people back to work, we have to ensure they do so safely and in a responsible way,” Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said in a release. “This new education campaign will offer guidance and direction, so business owners can properly protect their staff, customers and the general public.”

The province is also offering businesses a “suite” of free resources, including webinars on how to operate a business safely during COVID-19, and a 30-minute online course on infection prevention and control provided by the Public Services Health and Safety Association.

“Keeping small businesses open is a top priority,” said Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly. “Inspectors could be helpful to small businesses if they use an ‘education first’ approach and inform them about the new supports: It’s difficult to comply when you don’t know the rules.”

Local

Ottawa Public Health reported 65 new cases in Friday’s data and no new deaths.

There was an increase in hospital admissions for the first time in weeks, as Ottawa’s hospitalization rate had been steadily declining. There are now 21 patients in hospital (there were 18 earlier this week) and four are in intensive care.

Ottawa’s test positivity rate is also showing a spike in recent days.

Of the daily tests completed in Ottawa on Tuesday, 4.5 per cent were positive.

That’s more than double the weekly average 1.8 per cent in Ottawa, and those numbers have shown steady increases this week.

Only 1.7 per cent of tests came back positive on Sunday, rising to 2.7 per cent on Monday and 4.5 per cent in the most recent available data for Tuesday.

There have now been 14,216 total cases in Ottawa and of those, 13,342 are resolved. There have been 435 related deaths in Ottawa.

There are currently 439 active cases in the city.

Quebec

Quebec reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 100 fewer than Thursday.

In addition, 14 new deaths were reported, including one over the previous 24 hours.

There are 24 fewer people in hospital, for a total of 723 patients. There are 127 people in ICU, a drop of two.

Outaouais region recorded 19 new cases, bringing the pandemic total to 6,106. The death was unchanged at 158.

The province said it administered 9,202 additional vaccine doses, bringing the total to 311,651.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 280,687 cases and 10,278 deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 261,429 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.

Related

-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press

21 new coronavirus cases in London and Middlesex, 29 in Aylmer on Sunday .
Southwestern Public Health reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 29 are from Aylmer. Meanwhile, London and Middlesex saw more than 20 cases for the first time since Feb. 22.The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported 21 new coronavirus cases and 11 recoveries on Sunday.

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