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Ontario reports 1,316 new COVID cases Wednesday – BradfordToday

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Public Health Ontario has reported 1,316 new cases of COVID-19 today (March 10).

Today’s report includes 17 new deaths, none were long-term care residents. One death previously reported has been removed from the list, resulting in a net increase of 16 deaths for today’s report.

The deaths reported today include one person between 40 and 59 years old, nine people between 60 and 79 years old, and seven people aged 80 or older.

The province has reported 53 new hospitalizations since yesterday, and 12 new admissions of COVID-19 patients to intensive care units.

The March 10 update provided by the province’s public health agency also reported the following data:

  • 1,212 recoveries
  • 11,311 active cases, which is up from 11,223 yesterday
  • 678 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, down from 689 reported yesterday. 
  • There are 281 COVID patients in intensive care units (down from 290) and 178 COVID patients on ventilators (down from 184 yesterday)
  • The province reported 54,149 tests were processed yesterday resulting in a 2.5 per cent positivity rate.
  • Another 38,518 tests are still under investigation and/or being processed. To date, 11.5 million tests have been completed.
  • Of the 1,316 new cases reported today, 428 are from Toronto, 244 cases are from Peel, 149 are from York Region, and 31 are from Simcoe-Muskoka
  • There are 74 active outbreaks at long-term care homes, 55 at retirement homes, and 22 at hospitals. 
  • The new cases reported today include 267 individuals aged 19 and under, 478 people between 20 and 39 years old, 363 people between 40 and 59 years old, 179 people between 60 and 79 years old, and 31 people aged 80 and over.

Variants of concern (Ontario-wide)

  • 921 lab-confirmed cases of the UK variant strain of COVID-19 (B.1.1.7). 
  • 39 cases of B.1.351 (also known as the South African variant).
  • 17 cases of P.1, which is the variant strain that originated in Brazil. 
  • According to Public Health Ontario, there are delays between specimen collection and the testing required to confirm a variant of concern. As such, the reports can change and can differ from past case counts publicly reported.

Vaccines

  • There were 35,264 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 administered on March 9, which is up from 31,047 administered on Mar. 8. 
  • As of 8 p.m. on March 8, the province reported 978,797 doses of vaccine against COVID-19 have been administered.
  • In total, 279,204 people have been fully vaccinated.

Public Health Ontario has confirmed 312,428 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and reported 294,018 recoveries and 7,099 deaths, of which 3,876 were individuals living in long-term care homes.

The cumulative average incidence rate in the province is 2,101.9 cases per 100,000 people in Ontario.

The weekly incidence rate in Ontario is 53.1 cases per 100,000 people, which is an increase of 3.3 per cent from last week (Feb. 22-28). 

Yesterday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reported 30 new cases.

There are currently 373 active, lab-confirmed cases in the region, most of which are in Simcoe County. Eighteen people are currently hospitalized. 

There have been 225 confirmed instances of the B.1.1.7 variant strain that originated in the UK, and two cases of the P.1 strain that originated in Brazil in cases reported in Simcoe County and Muskoka. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the local health unit has confirmed 6,764 cases of COVID-19 with 6,143 of those cases recovered and 190 cases ending in death. 

The weekly incidence rate for Simcoe-Muskoka region is 37.2 cases per 100,000 people, which is down by 11.2 per cent compared to 41.9 cases per 100,000 people for the week of Feb. 21 to 27.

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Ontario hospitals may have to withhold care as COVID-19 fills ICUs

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By Allison Martell and Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive treatment in intensive care as the number of coronavirus infections sets records and patients are packed into hospitals still stretched from a December wave.

Canada‘s most populous province is canceling elective surgeries, admitting adults to a major children’s hospital and preparing field hospitals after the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs jumped 31% to 612 in the week leading up to Sunday, according to data from the Ontario Hospital Association.

The sharp increase in Ontario hospital admissions is also straining supplies of tocilizumab, a drug often given to people seriously ill with COVID-19.

Hospital care is publicly funded in Canada, generally free at the point of care for residents. But new hospital beds have not kept pace with population growth, and shortages of staff and space often emerge during bad flu seasons.

Ontario’s hospitals fared relatively well during the first wave of the pandemic last year, in part because the province quickly canceled elective surgeries.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last Thursday that the province was considering “enacting the critical care triage protocol,” something that was not done during earlier waves of the virus. Triage protocols help doctors decide who to treat in a crisis.

“Everybody’s under extreme stress,” said Eddy Fan, an ICU doctor at Toronto’s University Health Network. He said no doctor wants to contemplate a triage protocol but there are only so many staff.

“There’s going to be a breaking point, a point at which we can’t fill those gaps any longer.”

In a statement, the health ministry said Ontario has not activated the protocol. A September draft suggested doctors could withhold life-sustaining care from patients with a less than 20% chance of surviving 12 months. A final version has not been made public.

Ontario’s Science Advisory Table had been forecasting the surge for months, said member and critical care physician Laveena Munshi. During a recent shift she wanted to call the son of a patient only to discover he was in an ICU across the street.

“The horror stories that we’re seeing in the hospital are like ones out of apocalyptic movies,” she said. “They’re not supposed to be the reality we’re seeing one year into a pandemic.”

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In COVID-19 vaccination pivot, Canada targets frontline workers

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By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is shifting its vaccination campaign to target frontline workers, moving away from a largely age-based rollout as the country tries to get a handle on the raging third wave of the pandemic.

Canada‘s approach thus far has left unvaccinated many so-called “essential workers,” like daycare providers, bus drivers and meatpackers, all of whom are among those at higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. Provinces are now trying to adjust their strategy to tackle the surge driven by new variants.

Targeting frontline workers and addressing occupation risk is vital if Canada wants to get its third wave under control, says Simon Fraser University mathematician and epidemiologist Caroline Colijn, who has modelled Canadian immunization strategies and found “the sooner you put essential workers [in the vaccine rollout plan], the better.”

Initially, Canada prioritized long-term care residents and staff for the vaccines, as well as the very elderly, health workers, residents of remote communities and Indigenous people.

Targeting vaccinations by age made sense early on in a pandemic that ravaged Canada‘s long-term care homes, Colijn said. But now, immunizing those at highest risk of transmission brings the greatest benefit.

“If you protect these individuals you also protect someone in their 60s whose only risk is when they go to the store. … The variants are here now. So if we pivot now, but it takes us two months to do it, then we will lose that race.”

Data released on Tuesday from the Institute of Clinical and Evaluative Sciences showed that Toronto’s neighbourhoods with the highest rates of COVID-19 infections had the lowest vaccination rates, underscoring the disparities in vaccination.

‘IT’S A JUGGERNAUT’

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a plan to have mobile vaccine clinics target COVID-19 “hotspots” and high-risk worksites, although he stopped short of giving people paid time off to get the shot.

Karim Kurji, medical officer of health in York Region north of Toronto, characterizes the shift in vaccination priority from age to transmission risk as moving from defence to offence.

“It’s a juggernaut in terms of the immunization machinery, and turning it around takes a lot of effort,” Kurji said.

Meanwhile, officials in the western province of Alberta say they are offering vaccines to more than 2,000 workers at Cargill’s meatpacking plant in High River, site of one of Canada‘s largest workplace COVID-19 outbreaks. Provincial officials said in a statement they are looking to expand the pilot to other plants.

Quebec will start vaccinating essential workers such as those in education, childcare and public safety in Montreal, where neighbourhoods with the highest vaccination rates have been among those with the lowest recorded infection rates.

The people doing the highest-risk jobs, from an infectious disease perspective, are more likely to be poor, non-white and new Canadians, health experts say. They are less likely to have paid leave to get tested or vaccinated or stay home when sick and are more likely to live in crowded or multi-unit housing. They need to be prioritized for vaccination and their vaccination barriers addressed, experts say.

Naheed Dosani, a Toronto palliative care physician and health justice activist, said making vaccines available to high-risk communities is not enough without addressing barriers to access.

“The face of COVID-19 and who was being impacted changed dramatically. The variants seemed to take hold in communities where essential workers live. … This [pivot] is a step in the right direction and will hopefully save lives.”

 

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Denny Thomas and Aurora Ellis)

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Canada finance minister: Pandemic an opportunity to bring in national childcare

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic and its damaging impact on women has underlined the need for a national childcare plan, which would also help the economic recovery, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.

Since taking up her job in August, Freeland has repeatedly spoken about a “feminist agenda,” and has said childcare will be part of a stimulus package worth up to C$100 billion ($79.6 billion) over three years. She will unveil details in her April 19 budget.

“I really believe COVID-19 has created a window of political opportunity and maybe an epiphany … on the importance of early learning and childcare,” Freeland told a online convention of Canada‘s ruling Liberal Party.

The budget is set to be a springboard for an election that Liberal insiders say is likely in the second half of the year.

Canadian governments of various stripes have mused about a national childcare program for decades but never acted, thanks in part to the cost and also the need to negotiate with the 10 provinces, which deliver many social programs.

Freeland said a childcare program would help counter “an incredibly dangerous drop” in female employment since the start of the pandemic.

“It is a surefire way to drive jobs and economic growth … you have higher participation of women in the labor force,” Freeland said. “My hope … is that being able to make that economic argument as well is going be to one of the ways that we get this done.”

Freeland, who is taking part this week in meetings of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations and the International Monetary Fund, said U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had told her they saw early learning and child care as a driver for economic recovery.

($1=1.2560 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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