Quebec expands COVID-19 lockdown, and worry in Ontario over hospitals

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One of the biggest health regions in Ontarios orders schools closed starting Tuesday. Peel Public Health says schools will close for two weeks in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Schools also to close in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario ICUs grows, the medical community is calling on the provincial government to do more to slow the virus, including vaccinating essential workers. 2:12

The latest:

  • Ontario regional health chiefs urge full stay-at-home order; Peel Region, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph move to close schools. 
  • Alberta is investigating two workplace outbreaks of the P.1 variant first detected in Brazil. 
  • B.C. health minister says it’s time to “dig in” to obey COVID-19 safety rules as cases mount.
  • India’s daily coronavirus cases soar past 100,000 for 1st time as western state tightens restrictions.
  • Track how many people have been given the COVID-19 vaccine across Canada.

The medical officers of health from Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa have joined forces to urge the province of Ontario to issue a full stay-at-home order and strengthen its emergency measures.

In a letter sent to Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, the three regional heads say the current measures will not do enough to reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 infections.

“Stricter lockdowns have been shown to be effective in other countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed to achieve sufficient population coverage to suppress transmission,” the joint letter says.

I am asking each and every one of you to help us get this virus under control.

Mask up. Keep your distance. #StayHome

We have come too far, Ottawa. (5/5) pic.twitter.com/NRvqNKdbYi

—@VeraEtches

Peel Public Health has also ordered all schools to be closed.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health for the region, which includes Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, said he is ordering schools to close starting Tuesday.

The schools will move to online learning only and will remain closed until April 18.

Loh said the closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure.

Late Monday, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health region also said it would close all of its schools effective Wednesday. 

Toronto Public Health is not ordering all schools closed at this time, though the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board are each closing a handful of schools due to outbreaks. 

On the advice of @TOPublicHealth students and staff at the following schools are being dismissed effective tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6 to allow TPH additional time to investigate COVID cases.

All students will be moving to remote learning at this time. pic.twitter.com/CQrWUr57AW

—@tdsb

As per TPH @TOPublicHealth recommendation, effective tomorrow April 6th the following schools will be temporarily dismissed and pivot to virtual learning due to ongoing COVID-19 investigations.

St Gregory
James Culnan
Blessed Trinity
St Brigid
St Patrick
Neil McNeil
All Saints

—@TCDSB

Ontario on Monday reported figures covering two days, for a total of 5,979 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 additional deaths.

According to figures released Monday, hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 942, with 494 people in “ICU due to COVID-related critical illness.” Of those in ICU, 469 were still testing positive for COVID-19, the update said.

Some health experts in the province are urging a change in vaccination priorities, from older Canadians to essential workers. 

Another #COVID patient story about a NON-essential worker in his early 30s with workplace acquired infection. pic.twitter.com/DCtXCf46o5

—@drmwarner

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory said the city is working on a plan to vaccinate high-risk people at their places of work.

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 restrictions will go into effect in Quebec on Monday evening as the province tries to deal with rising COVID-19 case numbers involving more contagious variants.

The provincial government said the curfew will move from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday evening in the regional municipalities of Beauce-Sartigan, Bellechasse, Les Etchemins, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche.

Non-essential businesses will be required to close starting Monday evening, as will restaurant dining rooms. Schools will also have to close for in-person learning. The measures will be in place until at least April 12, the province said.

The Quebec government imposed the same restrictions on three other cities last week, including Quebec City and Gatineau.

Quebec reported 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Monday. According to a provincial dashboard, hospitalizations stood at 503, with 123 in intensive care.

The expanded restrictions in parts of Quebec come as several provinces face mounting COVID-19 case numbers and increasing hospitalizations, prompting concern about the strain on health-care systems.

Quebec reported 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and nine additional deaths. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)


What else is happening across Canada

As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 1,013,520 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 57,814 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,118.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

In New Brunswick, health officials reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.  Fourteen patients are hospitalized with the disease, including eight in intensive care, the province said.

The update came a day after health officials said a hospital in northwestern New Brunswick is nearing its capacity for acute care patients, according to a statement released by the Vitalité Health Network over the weekend. 

“The evolution of the variant and its atypical behaviours are creating problems that exceed the pessimistic projections that had been made for that region,” the statement from the organization’s president and CEO, Dr. France Desrosiers, said. “The Edmundston Regional Hospital will soon reach its maximum capacity in terms of patients requiring acute care.”

Desrosiers, who praised the efforts of front-line workers and health-care staff, noted that the transfer of patients to other facilities “is imminent.”

Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have not yet reported updated figures on Monday.

Health officials in the Northwest Territories say one person was infected with COVID-19 recently due to international travel. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer says the person and three other contacts are self-isolating and doing well. Health officials say the case will be counted in the territory’s COVID-19 statistics Tuesday.

Across the rest of North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or Yukon. 

WATCH | Nunavut premier celebrates turning a COVID-19 corner:

Arviat once hosted Nunavut’s worst COVID-19 outbreak. But with almost one-third of the territory’s population fully immunized and travel restrictions easing, Premier Joe Savikataaq visited his hometown to share his appreciation with those who helped turn the corner. 2:17

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 135 new cases on Monday, covering the past two days, with an additional two deaths. 

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 219 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and one additional death. The province is set to unveil its budget on Tuesday, warning the province is in a “tough spot” due to pandemic spending and the economic crisis. 

In Alberta, there were 887 new cases and four new deaths reported Monday. The province is investigating two workplace outbreaks of the P.1 variant of the virus, the one first detected in Brazil. 

WATCH | COVID-19 ‘disaster’ on the doorstep,’ says Calgary ER physician:

Calgary is in the midst of explosive COVID-19 growth, which is driven by variants, says Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician. He says leaders have been slow to respond to this ‘five-alarm fire.’ 5:55

British Columbia is moving to Phase 3 of its vaccination process. Beginning at 8 a.m. local time Tuesday, people born in 1950 or earlier (71 and older), Indigenous peoples 18 and older and those considered high risk may register online for a vaccine.  

The province reported 999 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 890 cases on Monday, for a total of 1,889 new cases over the past two days. Another 23 people died from complications linked to the virus since last Thursday.

(CBC News)

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 4:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

People stand outside a COVID-19 testing centre at London Bridge Station, in London, England, on Monday. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

As of late Monday afternoon, more than 131.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.

In the Americas, starting Monday, any adult in Florida is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the state announced that teens aged 16 and 17 can also get the vaccine with parental permission.

Johnson & Johnson is taking over “full responsibility” for a subcontractor’s Baltimore facility that produces the drug substance for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after an embarrassing mix-up. The company said it’s adding leaders in operations and quality control to the Emergent BioSolutions plant to supervise the work of its vaccine line.

It comes after enough drug substance for about 15 million doses was contaminated by human error at the plant. The issue was flagged last week to federal regulators, who have yet to approve any doses from the Baltimore plant.

J&J has delivered about 20 million doses from another plant to the federal government and says it expects to deliver about 80 million more by the end of May.

LISTEN | ‘I call it … one endless Wednesday’: More than one year in, pandemic burnout is real, author says:

Front Burner21:48Pandemic burnout is real

Today on Front Burner, Anne Helen Petersen explains the forces behind burnout and why more and more Canadians are struggling with it one year into a global pandemic that has altered the way many of us work and live. 21:48

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippine government extended a lockdown by another week on Monday after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, under lockdown last week as daily infections breached 10,000. Roman Catholic leaders shifted Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned.

Bangladesh began enforcing a week-long nationwide lockdown on Monday, shutting shopping malls and transportation as authorities try to stop a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.

The decision came after health authorities said that they were facing overwhelming pressure in intensive care units in recent weeks because of severe infections. This is the second time the South Asian nation has enforced a virus lockdown after the first last March.

India has reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are returning to the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread.

Medical workers fill a box with traditional Easter cakes known as Colomba as they prepare to tour the COVID-19 ward of the GVM Maria Pia Hospital in Turin, Italy, on Sunday. (Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images)

The Health Ministry on Monday reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country’s death toll to 165,101.

India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.

In the Middle East, Iran’s capital is once again facing the highest level of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus as the country struggles with a new surge in daily deaths. State media said the measure on Monday is the third time Tehran has faced a so-called code red since the pandemic began. A code red involves a ban on any travel by personal cars to and from cities and limits working hours of many businesses and offices to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • INTERACTIVE | Where is the coronavirus pandemic getting better or worse?

About 50 cities and towns are in code red, with only 23 in code blue, or “safe” status, out of the country’s total of more than 800 cities and towns. The rest are in orange and yellow status, which involve fewer restrictions.

The report comes as Iran’s daily death toll again reached three digits, after months of being under 100. On Sunday, 161 deaths were reported, bringing the registered death toll in Iran to more than 63,000, the highest in the Middle East. Iran has reported some 1.9 million confirmed cases of the virus

Also on Monday, Iran said it received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands through the global COVAX initiative. 

In Africa, South Africa’s health minister said Sunday that the number of confirmed cases in the country — the hardest-hit on the continent — stood at more than 1.5 million, with nearly 53,000 recorded deaths.

In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday his government was hopeful that non-essential international travel would restart from May 17, but did not want to underestimate the growing number of COVID-19 cases elsewhere. He said a task force would report later this week to set out what might be a “reasonable” plan.

A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 at a residential area in Ahmedabad, India, on Sunday. (Ajit Solanki/The Associated Press)

France’s health minister warned Monday that the number of COVID-19 patients in the country’s intensive care units could reach levels seen during the first crisis a year ago. France’s hospitals have already surpassed the number of coronavirus ICU patients seen during the second surge in November, and Olivier Veran said on TF1 television that “it’s possible we could approach” the ICU saturation levels of April 2020.

Portugal on Sunday extended until April 15 restrictions on travel via land and sea to Spain that had been due to end this weekend.

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco told the Financial Times newspaper that the biggest threat to a global economic recovery is the irregular pace at which countries are vaccinating their populations against COVID-19.


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