The federal government defended its approach to securing Canada’s border against COVID-19 as Ontario Premier Doug Ford once again called for more testing at points of entry.
Canada’s border controls — and the 14-day quarantine requirement for returning travellers — are among the strictest in the world, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters Tuesday.
“Over the past few days, we’ve heard a number of comments which, frankly, are an unfortunate misrepresentation of what is actually happening at our borders,” Blair said.
“COVID-19 cases related to international travel currently account for only 1.8 per cent of all cases. That means 98.2 per cent of COVID transmissions are a result of community transmissions, not international travel.”
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said that while Ottawa is always evaluating it’s approach at the border, its main concern is transmission within Canada. “What we’re seeing now is that the biggest problem in Canada is community transmission inside Canada, it’s not really the importation of cases,” Njoo told reporters.
Blair and Njoo’s comments followed criticism from Premier Ford, who said Monday that Ottawa needed to do more to prevent travellers from bringing the novel coronavirus into the country.
Ford hit the federal government again on the issue Tuesday, telling reporters that Canada must require that travellers obtain a negative COVID-19 test before they arrive on Canadian soil — “something that countless other countries have required for months.”
“We’re letting tens of thousands of people into our country every week without the basic screening requirements,” Ford said, adding that screening on arrival is “the bare minimum.”
“Despite our repeated calls, we hear every week about dozens of flights coming in, unchecked, and bringing in COVID with them.”
Ford said that if the federal government doesn’t begin testing travellers on arrival, Ontario will — though he wouldn’t say when he planned to start. “I’ve directed our officials to begin preparing infrastructure necessary for testing at our airports and I hope we won’t have to go it alone, but we’re prepared to do that if we must,” he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party sent an email to supporters asking them to sign an online petition calling on Ottawa to take stronger action on the border.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says that even if everyone was tested at the border, some cases could still get through. “If you don’t test people at the right time in their illness, in fact, the test can be negative,” she told reporters Tuesday. “That’s why we’ve maintained the 14-day quarantine with such a degree of rigour.”
However, 81 per cent of the 6.5 million travellers who arrived in Canada between March 31, 2020 and Nov. 12, 2020 were exempt from quarantine, the Canada Border Services Agency said Tuesday.
“The Canadian border remains closed to discretionary or optional travel, therefore the majority of individuals who have crossed the border are exempt travellers,” Rebecca Purdy, a senior spokesperson at the CBSA wrote in an email.
The majority of those exempt travellers were truckers, Blair said.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault told reporters Tuesday he wanted more information from the federal government about how it planned to enforce 14-day isolation rules for Canadians who return from holiday vacations outside the country.
Legault said he too hasn’t ruled out the possibility of deploying provincial authorities to test travellers on arrival.
Ford said he’s worried in part because of a new variant of COVID-19 discovered in the U.K. Canada suspended flights from that country for 72 hours at midnight on Dec. 21.
Canada is currently reviewing additional measures, Blair said, adding that “enhanced screening has been put in place at all Canadian airports and at all points of entry” to identify travellers who may be arriving from the U.K. indirectly.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday the new variant has not yet been detected in Canada. She said, however, that “Canada remains on a trajectory for an even stronger resurgence (of COVID-19) over the next two months and this is a perilous time.”
Hajdu said that a second COVID-19 vaccine, from U.S. biotech firm Moderna, could be coming soon to Canada, if it is approved by federal regulators.
“Health Canada now has all the data required to make a decision; my understanding is that decision will be very soon,” Hajdu said. “I can’t speak for the regulators because obviously they are independent but they will have information for Canadians in the very near future.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Ottawa sees fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19 in one-day dip – CTV Edmonton
Ottawa Public Health says 85 more people in Ottawa have tested positive for COVID-19, a low figure after several days of triple-digit daily case counts.
Two more people in Ottawa have died.
Across the province, a single-day drop in cases was also reported, with 2,578 new cases, the lowest figure since Jan. 1. Ontario reported 92 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. Figures from the province and from OPH often differ due to data collection times.
According to Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 12,371 total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Two new deaths bring Ottawa’s pandemic death toll to 405 residents.
Some of Ottawa’s weekly trends appear to be improving, with the number of new cases in the last seven days, the testing positivity rate, and the estimated reproduction rate dropping in Monday’s update.
OTTAWA’S COVID-19 KEY STATISTICS
A province-wide lockdown went into effect on Dec. 26, 2020. Ottawa Public Health moved Ottawa into its red zone in early January.
A provincial stay-at-home order has been in effect since Jan. 14, 2021.
Ottawa Public Health data:
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (previous seven days): 82.7 cases
- Positivity rate in Ottawa: 4.0 per cent (Jan. 11 – Jan. 17)
- Reproduction number: 0.94 (seven day average)
Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.
Ontario health officials say 209,788 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered provincewide so far, with 9,691 needles given on Sunday. So far, 21,752 people have completed their vaccination by receiving both doses.
Ontario has received 277,050 total doses of vaccines as of Jan. 14, according to Health Canada, 224,250 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses and 52,800 Moderna vaccine doses.
Locally, the Ottawa Hospital said last week the city had received 22,245 doses of the vaccine. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CTV News at Six on Saturday that the City had administered 19,980 doses of vaccine.
ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA
The number of people with known active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa fell for the second day in a row after hitting a record peak on Saturday.
There are 1,232 active cases in Ottawa, down from 1,274 on Sunday and 1,286 on Saturday.
The drop in active cases was driven in part by a rise in resolved cases.
OPH reported 135 more people in Ottawa have had their COVID-19 cases resolve, bringing the city’s total number of resolved cases to 10,734.
The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.
HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA
There are 40 people in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 complications, 10 of whom are in the ICU. That figure rose slightly from 38 and 8 on Sunday.
Of the people in hospital, one is between the ages of 10 and 19 (this person is in the ICU), one is in their 30s (this person is in the ICU), five are in their 50s (one is in the ICU), nine are in their 60s (four are in the ICU), seven are in their 70s (three are in the ICU), 10 are in their 80s and seven are 90 or older.
Across Ontario, 40,301 COVID-19 tests were performed on Sunday, a significant drop from the more than 60,000 performed the day before. There are 18,481 tests still under investigation.
An update from the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce is due this afternoon.
CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit: 36 new cases
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: 4 new cases
- Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: 0 new cases
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: 1 new case
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit: 2 new cases
- Outaouais region: 61 new cases
This is a breaking news story. CTV News will have the latest as it becomes available.
Ontario reports 2,578 new COVID cases today – SooToday
Public Health Ontario has reported 2,578 new cases of COVID-19 today.
The province is also reporting 24 deaths today, including 14 people who were residents at long-term care homes.
The deaths reported today include one person between 40 and 59 years old, 11 people between 60 and 79 years old, and 12 people over the age of 80.
Ontario reports 86 new COVID-related hospitalizations and 12 new admissions to intensive care.
The Jan. 18 update provided by the province’s public health agency also reported the following data:
- 2,826 new recoveries
- 1,571 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, up from 1,571 reported yesterday. Public Health Ontario notes more than 10% of hospitals do not submit data to the daily census on weekends. As a result, the number of hospitalized patients may increase when reporting compliance increases.
- There are 394 COVID patients in intensive care units (down from 395 yesterday) and 303 COVID patients on ventilators (up from 293 yesterday).
- The province reported 40,301 tests were processed yesterday resulting in a 6.6 per cent postivity rate.
- There is a backlog of 18,481 tests. To date, 8,965,747 tests have been completed.
- Of the 2,578 cases reported today, 815 are from Toronto, 507 are from Peel, 151 are from York Region, and 65 are from Simcoe Muskoka.
- There are 252 ongoing, active outbreaks at long-term care homes, 171 outbreaks at retirement homes and 88 outbreaks at hospitals in the province.
- The province’s report shows the cases reported today included: 226 people under 19 years old, 972 people between 20 and 39 years old, 743 people between 40 and 59 years old, 349 people between 60 and 79 years old, and 174 people over the age of 80.
- There were 9,691 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 administered on Jan. 17, down from11,007 on Jan. 16.
- As of 8 p.m. on Jan. 17, the province reports 209,788 doses of vaccine against COVID-19 have been administered.
- There are 21,752 total vaccinations completed (both doses). The vaccines approved for use require two doses a few weeks apart.
Public Health Ontario has confirmed 240,364 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and reported 206,310 recoveries and 5,433 deaths, of which 3,212 were individuals living in long-term care homes. There were two new outbreaks reported at long-term care homes in Ontario over the past 24 hours.
The cumulative average incidence rate in the province is 1,617 cases per 100,000 people in Ontario. The weekly incidence rate in Ontario is 150.4 cases per 100,000 people from Jan. 8 to Jan. 14, which is a decrease of 8.3 per cent compared to Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 when the average weekly incidence rate was 164 cases per 100,000 people.
In Northern Ontario, the breakdown of Public Health Ontario data is:
- Algoma Public Health: 142 cases, rate of 124 per 100,000 people. There are 37 known active cases, including one person who is a non-Algoma resident temporarily in the region.
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit: 181 cases, rate of 139.5 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 184 cases. There are 13 known active cases.
- Porcupine Health Unit: 170 cases, rate of 203.7 per 100,000 people. There are 18 known active cases.
- Public Health Sudbury and Districts: 396 cases, rate of 199 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 390 cases. There are 62 known active cases.
- Timiskaming Health Unit: 85 cases, rate of 260 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 86 cases. There is one known active case.
- Northwestern Health Unit: 235 cases, rate of 268 per 100,000 people. There are 28 known active cases.
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit: 726 cases, rate of 484.1 per 100,000 people. The health unit has reported 732 cases. There are 75 known active cases.
The Ontario government has declared a state of emergency, the second since the start of the pandemic, and a stay at-home order is in effect until at least Feb. 11, 2021. There are additional measures in place for the shutdown, all of which can be found in this provincial breakdown.
Ontario to expand big-box-retail blitz – Sault Star
Article content continued
Those who have already received an initial dose will receive their booster, it said.
A spokeswoman for the Minister of Health did not say how many regions received a similar directive or why first doses of the Moderna vaccine were also being paused.
And as the vaccine rollout continues at a slightly slower pace, McNaughton said he was hopeful the weekend enforcement blitz would help reign in numbers of new infections.
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.
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.
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.
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