Good morning. Here is the latest news on COVID-19 and its impact on Ottawa.
- Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine; Ontario is expecting 53,000 doses.
- Ottawa Public Health reported a jump in new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
- The NHL released its return to play schedule, but Ontario’s sports minister says talks are ongoing regarding play in Ottawa and Toronto.
- OC Transpo has cancelled its free New Year’s Eve service in light of the provincewide lockdown that comes into effect on Boxing Day.
COVID-19 by the numbers in Ottawa:
- New cases: 48 new cases on Wednesday.
- Total COVID-19 cases: 9,448
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 27.4
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 1.2 per cent (Dec 14-20)
- Reproduction Number: 0.92 (seven day average)
Who should get a test?
Ottawa Public Health says there are four reasons to seek testing for COVID-19:
- You are showing COVID-19 symptoms. OR
- You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by Ottawa Public Health or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app. OR
- You are a resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by Ottawa Public Health. OR
- You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Ottawa:
Ottawa’s assessment centres will remain open for the holiday season. However, sites will have adjusted operating hours between Wednesday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Jan 4.
To book an appointment, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/shared-content/assessment-centres.aspx
The Brewer Ottawa Hospital/CHEO Assessment Centre
- Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1
- Shortened days (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for both Ottawa Hospital and CHEO centres on Dec. 24, 26, 27, 31 and Jan. 2 and 3.
- Shortened days (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for the Ottawa Hospital site Dec. 28 to 31
COVID-19 Drive-thru assessment centre at National Arts Centre
- Closed: Dec. 25 and Jan. 1
- Shortened Day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) December 24 and 31
The Moodie Care and Testing Centre will be closed: Dec. 25-27 and Jan. 2-3
The Heron Care and Testing Centre will be closed: Dec. 23-27 and Jan. 1 to 3
The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre will be closed on Dec. 25
The COVID-19 Assessment Centre at McNabb Community Centre will be closed Dec. 25 to 27, and Jan. 1 to 3. There will be shortened days on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.
Classic Symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
Other symptoms: sore throat, difficulty swallow, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pneumonia, new or unexplained runny nose or nasal congestion
Less common symptoms: unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, headache, delirium, chills, red/inflamed eyes, croup
Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada.
This comes two weeks after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given approval in Canada. Several thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been administered.
Ontario is expecting to receive 53,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of December.
The Moderna vaccine is being called a “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19 because, unlike its Pfizer-BioNTech counterpart, it doesn’t need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to deliver it directly to long-term care homes or remote locations.
Ottawa Public Health reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a notable jump from the 16 that were reported on Tuesday.
One more person in Ottawa has died from the virus.
However, OPH also reported a drop in the positivity rate and a lower reproduction number.
Ottawa’s positivity rate for the week of Dec. 14 to 20 was 1.2 per cent, meaning the city is moving closer to “Yellow-Protect” territory under the provincial framework.
Of course, a 28-day provincewide shutdown will move Ottawa to lockdown status as of 12:01 a.m. Dec. 26.
The NHL released its schedule for the 2020-21 season Wednesday, but Ontario’s minister of sport said discussions are still ongoing about how the all-Canadian North division will operate.
Ontario is scheduled to enter a province-wide lockdown on Saturday that will last for 28 days in its most heavily populated regions. The NHL had previously announced that its new season will start on Jan. 13, 10 days before the lockdown is scheduled to lift in Toronto and Ottawa.
Sport Minister Lisa MacLeod said federal and provincial governments are still meeting about the NHL’s return-to-play plan but that the logistics are complex.
The Ottawa Senators are scheduled to start their season Jan. 15 against visiting Toronto, the first of two games in as many days between the Ontario rivals in the nation’s capital.
OC Transpo has reversed course on offering free transit service on New Year’s Eve.
The annual offering is meant to reduce the risk of impaired driving by giving people a free option to take transit home on a night during which alcohol tends to flow as freely.
However, with the provincewide shutdown coming Boxing Day and expected to last for 28 days, OC Transpo said it would not be offering free service, as residents are encouraged to remain home and only travel for essential reasons.
Canada to wait longer than Europe for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – The Globe and Mail
The European Union will have a much shorter interruption in deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine than Canada, despite commitments last week that countries would share equally in a temporary drop in doses.
On Friday, the federal government announced vaccine deliveries to Canada would be cut by half for a four-week period starting Jan. 25. The pharmaceutical giant said the slowdown was needed to allow the company to retool its Belgian plant in order to expand production.
Major-General Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s vaccine logistics, said the loss would be made up in the subsequent weeks, with the company still delivering all four million vaccine doses in the first quarter — as previously committed.
Maj-Gen. Fortin also said that every country that has purchased Pfizer vaccines will be “affected equally.” But after first laying out a three- to four-week slowdown in shipments to European countries, the company later said shipments would resume their original schedule to European Union members the week of Jan. 25.
The vaccine is delayed in Canada as COVID-19 infections continue to rise and as pressure on hospitals remains high in many parts of the country. Ontario reported 3,422 new infections on Sunday, along with 69 deaths. The numbers were based on nearly 60,200 tests.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in an e-mailed statement Sunday that Ottawa has reiterated to Pfizer the importance of Canada returning to its regular delivery schedule of vaccines, but no explanation was provided for the discrepancy.
“I understand and share the concerns of Canadians regarding the temporary delivery delay of Pfizer doses,” Ms. Anand said. “We are once again in touch with representatives from Pfizer to reiterate firmly the importance for Canada to return to our regular delivery schedule as soon as possible.”
Canada was previously expecting to receive 208,650 doses in the last week of January and about 367,000 doses each week in February. Instead, about 655,000 of those doses will be delivered later.
Based on publicly released delivery numbers, the drop will translate to approximately 327,000 people getting their two-shot vaccine later than expected.
The slowdown means Ontario will increase the interval between the two shots needed to maximize the protection provided by the vaccine, from the company-recommended 21 days to up to 42 days. On Friday, British Columbia said it was also evaluating whether it would need to increase the interval between the shots.
Ms. Anand said Pfizer assured the government it is deploying all efforts to return Canada to its original delivery schedule as soon as possible. “This is an evolving situation. As soon as updated information on the delivery of Pfizer doses for Canada is available, we will share it with Canadians,” she said.
Europe had initially been advised it would face a similar delay as Canada. Germany’s Health Ministry had said Friday that Pfizer informed the European Commission it would not be able to fulfill all of its promised deliveries in the next three to four weeks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she “immediately called the CEO of Pfizer.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his press conference that the setback was “out of our hands” and that’s why Canada has contracts with several vaccine developers.
Christina Antoniou, a spokesperson for Pfizer, said in an e-mailed statement Sunday that because of the improvements the company is undertaking to scale up capacity, vaccine shipments will be temporarily affected in late January and early February, but it will allow for a significant increase in late February and March.
“The principle of equity is used when considering allocation of doses worldwide and we expect to have more information in the coming days,” Ms. Antoniou said.
Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said in an e-mailed statement that it is up to the Prime Minister to explain to Canadians why they will not be able to get vaccinated for months after people in other countries, such as the United States.
“It’s up to him to explain why, based on Friday’s news about vaccine delivery delays, we might be looking at many more months of lockdown – with the lost jobs, time with families, and mental health challenges that accompany them – while vaccines are being delivered to countries like the United States. It’s also up to him to find better path forward; if his Plan A has failed, what’s Plan B?” asked Ms. Rempel Garner.
With a report from the Associated Press
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Ontario to expand big-box retail blitz amid widespread rule violations, labour minister says – Global News
TORONTO — An enforcement blitz that uncovered numerous violations of COVID-19 prevention protocols across big-box retailers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas will broaden its scope to include the rest of the province in the weeks ahead, the province’s labour minister said Sunday.
Monty McNaughton said the initial wave of inspectors combing retailers for those eschewing masks and ignoring physical distancing guidelines found only 70 per cent of sites they visited were adhering to the public health measures intended to curb the spread of the virus. He called the results disappointing, pledging to expand the enforcement efforts to other parts of the province as well as additional industries at risk from COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We’ll be expanding that in the days and weeks to come across the whole province,” McNaughton said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to continue targeting bad actors and we’ll continue issuing fines and close them down if we have to.”
The initial blitz involved 50 inspectors fanning out across Toronto, Hamilton and surrounding municipalities to observe the scene at multiple big-box retailers, which are among the businesses allowed to keep their doors open under Ontario’s current stay-at-home order.
McNaughton said big-box stores would remain a key target during the provincewide expansion. The ministry issued a document late last week saying inspections would also involve workplaces which reported COVID-19 outbreaks and businesses focused on manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centres and food processing.
Word of the expansion comes amid growing pressure to quell soaring COVID-19 case counts across Ontario, which showed little sign of abating over the weekend.
The province reported 3,422 new cases of COVID-19 and another 69 deaths on Sunday, up more than 10 per cent from levels recorded the day before.
Coronavirus: Critically ill patients flown to other regions due to ICU bed shortage
The bulk of the most recent diagnoses remain in Toronto and nearby Peel Region, where 1,035 and 585 new infections were identified in the past 24 hours.
Windsor-Essex County, York Region and Niagara logged another 254, 246 and 186 cases respectively.
McNaughton was hopeful the weekend blitz would help reign in those numbers.
The inspectors visited 110 retailers on Saturday alone and found 31 violations of COVID-19 protocols, he said, noting that amounts to a compliance rate of just over 70 per cent.
They issued 11 formal warnings and 11 tickets, he added.
McNaughton said he’d hoped the compliance rate would be much higher.
“Every business, every supervisor and every worker out there has to do more today than at any point during this pandemic to keep people safe and to be vigilant,” he said.
What’s driving the COVID-19 surge in Windsor, Ontario?
The blitz, which continued Sunday, is part of an array of measures the province unveiled in recent days to toughen its approach to COVID-19.
Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can’t be completed remotely.
Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups.
The most common violations inspectors found big box stores contravening were linked to screening of customers and staff, masking protocols and physical distancing problems, McNaughton said.
Coronavirus: Vaughan closes outdoor skating, tobogganing
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development says it has conducted more than 34,000 COVID-19 related workplace inspections and halted unsafe work 55 times throughout the pandemic.
It is in the process of hiring an additional 100 health and safety inspectors and doubling the number of phone lines at the provincial Health and Safety Contact Centre, where violations can be reported.
Individuals found violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for as long as a year, while corporations can be fined up to $1.5 million per charge.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
How long will rural doctors have to wait for the vaccine? – CBC News
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- How long will rural doctors have to wait for the vaccine? CBC News
- Quebec Is Getting Nearly 90,000 Fewer Pfizer Vaccine Doses Than Expected By Next Month MTL Blog
- COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down Medicine Hat News
- LILLEY: Time for Trudeau to deliver badly-needed vaccines Toronto Sun
- Lebanon signs with Pfizer for 2.1 million vaccine doses The Times of Israel
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