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In the meantime, Hillier said the Ontario plan is on target.
“You know we realized early on that our mission was a marathon, not just a sprint, and we had to be ready for longer term,” Hillier told reporters.
He said that Ontario’s Phase 1 started with the first arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier in December, with a directive from the province to protect the most vulnerable, those being patients in long-term care homes, as well as frontline health-care workers. This also includes home staff and essential visitors to those homes.
Hillier added that efforts would be underway soon to vaccinate more LTC residents with the newer Moderna vaccine, which is easier to transport as it does not require extreme cold refrigeration the way the Pfizer vaccine does.
“As of this moment, we do not have the Moderna vaccine in our hands in Ontario, but we expect it in the next 24 hours,” said Hillier.
He said medical teams will take delivery at four areas in southern Ontario, primarily lockdown zones, which Hillier described as hot zones “where COVID-19 is ravaging the population.”
While this is underway, Hillier said it doesn’t mean other parts of Ontario’s population are being ignored.
“I would speak to the First Nations here and just say be assured that those people in the long-term care homes or retirement homes that are First Nations are going to be looked after as part of this priority also,” said Hillier.
He added that this includes the workers in those First Nations nursing homes.
132 new COVID-19 cases reported in Waterloo, total number climbs past 8,000 – Global News
Waterloo Public Health reported 132 new positive tests for the coronavirus on Friday, raising the total number of cases in the area to 8,088.
This is the lowest number of new cases that the agency has announced since Jan. 3.
On the flip side, another 182 people were cleared of the virus, lifting the total number of resolved cases to 6,862.
There have been no new COVID-19-related deaths reported in four days leaving the death toll in Waterloo Region sitting at 179.
2nd case of South African COVID-19 variant appears in Canada
The number of active cases drops to 1,045 but there are now 37 people in area hospitals as a result of COVID-19, including 20 people who are in intensive care.
The COVID-19 vaccine has been administered in Waterloo Region 10,068 times, with 1,009 of those coming on Thursday.
There were no new COVID-19 outbreaks announced for Waterloo Region, however, there are still 42 remaining which continues to be a record number.
Elsewhere, Ontario reported 2,998 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 231,308.
Friday’s case count is lower than Thursday’s, which saw 3,326 new infections. On Wednesday, 2,961 new cases were recorded and 2,903 on Tuesday.
“Locally, there are 800 new cases in Toronto, 618 in Peel, 250 in York Region, 161 in Waterloo and 153 in Niagara,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
The death toll in the province has risen to 5,289, after 100 more deaths were reported — marking the highest daily number of deaths.
However, the Ontario government noted some of the deaths included in Friday’s report are from one public health unit and are also from earlier in the pandemic that the provincial database had missed.
–With files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Pandemic claims another life in northern BC – Prince George Citizen
The COVID-19 pandemic claimed another life in the Northern Health region, according to statistics released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Friday.
The death brings the pandemic’s death toll in the region to 48. In a joint statement issued on Friday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix reported a total of nine new COVID-related deaths in the province. COVID-19 had claimed a total of 1,047 lives in B.C. as of Friday.
“We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Henry and Dix said.
There were 49 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Northern Health region on Friday. The number of active cases in the region went up to 497, from 486 on Thursday, according to the B.C. CDC.
There were 44 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, including 13 in intensive care. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been 2,745 cases of COVID-19 in the region, of which 2,182 have recovered.
In their joint statement, Henry and Dix said there were a total of 509 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.
“There are 4,604 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 349 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 of whom are in intensive care,” they said. “Since we last reported, we have had 101 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 260 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 13 in the Island Health region, 86 in the Interior Health region, 49 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.”
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 60,117 cases in the province.
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“Currently, 7,132 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 53,115 people who tested positive have recovered,” Henry and Dix said. “To date, 75,914 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C. We are disappointed to hear today there will be a short-term delay in the delivery of some of the Pfizer vaccines to British Columbia in the coming weeks as the company upgrades its production facility. We are working closely with the federal government to determine how this might impact our immunization rollout in the immediate term, and we will have more to share in the coming days.”
In pandemic politics, timing is everything – Winnipeg Free Press
Premier Brian Pallister said a disruption in the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a good example of why Manitoba has been slow and cautious in its COVID-19 immunization rollout.
Government was prepared for this kind of bump in the road, he said.
However, according to the province’s own figures, Manitoba was falling behind its own vaccine schedule long before the Pfizer vaccine slowdown was announced.
Pfizer-BioNTech confirmed Friday it plans to delay some vaccine shipments (including to Canada) in the coming weeks to retool its manufacturing plants. Company officials said they expect to catch up by the end of March.
There are no details on how it will affect shipments to the provinces. But there will be a temporary reduction in doses.
Given how far behind Manitoba is in its immunization program, that slowdown may not make much of a difference.
But it does give the Pallister government political cover; the slower the shipments over the next few weeks, the easier it will be to catch up.
“I think this backs up our strategy,” Pallister said Friday. “Our vaccination team has focused a little less on trying to get good, short-term stats by rushing everything out and a little more on better, long-term protections by holding something back.”
Not exactly. The provincial government expressed confidence in the supply chain two weeks ago, announcing there was no longer any need to hold back 50 per cent of doses for followup booster shots.
“I think this backs up our strategy. Our vaccination team has focused a little less on trying to get good, short-term stats by rushing everything out and a little more on better, long-term protections by holding something back.”
— Premier Brian Pallister
Officials argued, rightly, there was enough certainty in the supply chain to rely on future shipments for second doses. They said they would maintain enough supply to meet demand for the following week. Beyond that, there was no plan to build up large inventories.
The province has fallen behind since then. The Pfizer delay buys time to catch up, while claiming plans were always in place for this. That’s why, late Friday, there was an announcement of a pause in new vaccination appointments (even though Pfizer shipments are still coming; there are just going to be fewer of them).
Pallister’s comments make for great political rhetoric, but they collide with the facts.
Manitoba has administered 13,539 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines since the immunization program began in December. The total number of vaccines received to date is 38,890. If all 5,300 doses sent to First Nations earlier this month have been used, it means only 48 per cent of doses have been injected so far. Manitoba was scheduled to receive 7,400 doses of Moderna this week. If those doses have arrived (the province refuses to confirm when it receives shipments), only 41 per cent of doses have been administered. The rest are sitting in freezers.
Nowhere in the Pallister government’s vaccine rollout plan did it say the province planned to stockpile that much inventory in case of a supply disruption.
Part of the reason for Manitoba’s slow rollout is the delay in getting vaccines to residents of personal-care homes. The province had enough inventory to start that program in early January, but didn’t begin until Monday. In a pandemic, every day matters.
The plan is to immunize an estimated 9,834 care-home residents over 28 days. The target for the first week was 1,157, but the number has fallen well short. As of Thursday, only 281 residents had received injections.
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin would not provide any explanation for the low number Friday, other than to say there will be more updates next week.
To meet the federal government’s original shipment estimates for January and February (which will now change), Manitoba would have to administer almost 2,400 doses a day.
But just 1,130 people, including care-home residents, were vaccinated between Wednesday and Friday.
The province just can’t seem to get this program off the ground. But now there’s an excuse.
It remains unclear when the Pfizer doses will be delayed, or by how much. But politically, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Pallister government.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
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