Ontario reported more than 6,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past two days, as the province entered a month-long shutdown on Saturday to curb rising infections.
Provincial health officials logged 3,009 new cases today and 3,089 cases on Friday.
The Ministry of Health did not report numbers yesterday due to the Good Friday holiday.
The last time the province logged more than 3,000 coronavirus cases was on Jan. 17 with 3,422 infections.
The province reported 2,557 new cases on Thursday, 2,333 on Wednesday and 2,336 on Tuesday.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 2,552, compared to 1,944 seven days ago.
Provincial health officials also reported 39 more virus-related deaths in the past two days. None of the latest fatalities were among long-term care home residents.
Most of the latest deaths were among those 60 and older, with 21 between 60 and 79 years old and 17 aged 80 and up. Ontario’s virus-related death toll now stands at 7,428.
Another 98 lab-confirmed highly-contagious variants of concern were identified over the past two days with 89 of the dominant B.1.1.7 variant, three of the B.1.351 variant and six of the P.1 variant.
In addition, nearly 2,100 cases that have screened positive for a variant of concern are awaiting whole genome sequencing to confirm their lineage, with a total of 24,459 cases waiting for further testing to confirm which variant they are.
More than 3,700 people have recovered from the disease in the past two days, resulting in 23,190 active cases of the virus across the province today.
Ontario labs processed more than 121,400 tests in the past two days.
More than 25,000 tests are under investigation.
The province’s positivity rate stands at 5 per cent, compared to 4.8 per cent two days ago, according to the Ministry of Health.
Most of the new cases continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area.
Toronto logged 954 today, while 434 cases were reported in Peel Region, 348 in York, 138 in Durham and 91 in Halton.
Meanwhile, Hamilton logged 146 new cases, while 145 new infections were reported in Middlesex-London and 205 in Ottawa.
Of Ontario’s 34 public health units, 14 reported 30 or more new COVID-19 cases.
As coronavirus infections continue to climb across the province, hospitalizations continue to remain elevated.
The Ministry of Health says there are currently 796 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 infection across the province, compared to 1,162 on Friday.
The government has said that hospitalizations are typically under reported on the weekends due to delayed reporting from hospitals and public health units.
Of those hospitalized, 451 are in intensive care units, up by 16 from the previous day, and 261 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
The director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital Dr. Michael Warner says the provincial shutdown won’t be effective in driving down case counts and hospitalizations.
“The GTA is on fire with COVID-19, as are the hospitals that serve them and unless something changes now this situation will get so far out of control that I don’t even want to consider what we might have to do if things don’t change,” he said.
To date, there have been over 358,500 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 327,940 recoveries in the province since the first case emerged in Ontario last January.
More than 321,400 people in Ontario have been fully vaccinated against the disease since mid-December. All vaccines that are currently being administered in the province require two doses for full immunization.
As of Friday evening, over 2.4 million doses have been given to people in the province, with more than 59,500 doses administered yesterday alone.
The latest numbers come as the province entered a four-week shutdown on Saturday to control COVID-19 transmission.
Indoor dining, along with gyms and hair salons must close but essential businesses and non-essential retail are allowed to remain open with capacity limits.
Although a stay-at-home order is not in effect, the government is encouraging people to stay home unless they need to leave for essential reasons, including going to work, buying food, medical reasons and exercise.
Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters on Saturday that the latest numbers are “deeply troubling” and that Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the right decision in implementing a shutdown.
He added that he’s in favour of considering additional measures to control COVID-19 transmission.
“I just think we’re at a very crucial point right now where the vaccines are getting administered. We had almost 40,000 people sign up [at Toronto vaccination clinics] in the last day or two which is great but we need to get caught up. And in order to get caught up we have to bring the level of infection down and that’s really going to involve people following the rules,” he told reporters while attending the Daily Bread Food Bank’s spring food drive in Etobicoke.
The Ministry of Health will not be releasing COVID-19 numbers tomorrow due to the Easter long weekend but the numbers will be posted on Monday.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.
“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.
In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.
In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.
“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”
In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.
“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said.
But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.”
How should parents approach vaccine question?
Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”
“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.
As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.
“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.
There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.
The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.
If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”
“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.
‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.
“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.
In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.
“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.
Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.
On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.
When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.
Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.
Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.
“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”
The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.
“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”
When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”
Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.
On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”
He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.
In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.
330 people are in BC hospitals with COVID-19 – MY PG NOW
U.S. CDC advisers recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for 65 and older, high risk – CBC.ca
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