Ontario is reporting nearly 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 today as the rolling seven-day average of new infections continues to rise in the province.
Provincial health officials logged 1,185 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus today and another six deaths.
Today’s tally is down from the 1,631 new infections reported on Monday, although the province said yesterday’s case count was inflated due to a data reporting issue. The Ministry of Health did not disclose how many of Monday’s cases should have been included in previous totals.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at 1,187, up from 1,098 last week.
With 33,300 tests completed on Monday, today’s test positivity rate is now 3.7 per cent, a notable jump from 2.9 per cent one week ago.
Active cases are also on the rise in the province. There are now 11,223 active lab-confirmed infections of COVID-19 in Ontario, up from 10,546 seven days ago.
According to the province, nearly 10 per cent of all active cases today involve primary and secondary school students.
For the third day in a row, none of the six virus-related deaths confirmed in Ontario today involve residents of long-term care. Despite the uptick in new cases over the past week, the average number of virus-related deaths recorded per day has dropped to 12 today, down from 17 last Tuesday.
Of the new cases reported today, 343 are in Toronto, 235 are in Peel Region, and 105 are in York Region.
Virus-related hospitalizations are continuing to climb along with intensive care admissions. The number of people with COVID-19 who are receiving treatment in hospital is now 689, up from 677 last week. The province is reporting that there are now 290 patients with COVID-19 in the ICU, up from 284 last Tuesday.
Numbers released by individual local public health units indicate that there are now 834 COVID-19 patients in hospital.
Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a University of Toronto medical professor and vice-president at Unity Health Toronto, tweeted Tuesday that the number of patients with COVID-19 who are currently in the ICU is actually 344, an increase of 27 patients over the past 24 hours.
Up to 344 this morning.
— Irfan Dhalla (@IrfanDhalla) March 9, 2021
Speaking about the need to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable groups as quickly as possible, Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CP24 on Tuesday that he believes a third wave of the pandemic has already arrived in Ontario.
“Wave three, I believe, is upon us. ICU numbers are increased today. Case numbers are rising and a vaccination also buys people more freedom,” Warner said.
“So we need to make sure we prioritize the people who are most likely to get sick and die from COVID within Phase 2 (of the vaccination program) and make sure the people who could get COVID but almost certainly are going to survive are toward the end of the line so that we save the most lives.”
An estimated 943,533 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario to date. Many municipalities have begun inoculating their oldest residents and on Monday, the City of Toronto confirmed that it will open three mass immunization clinics next week to begin vaccinating people in the community who are over the age of 80.
The province said another 29 cases of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, have been confirmed through full genome sequencing, bringing the total number of cases of the variant in Ontario to 908. Thousands of other cases in the province have screened positive for a variant but have not yet been officially confirmed as one of the three main variants of concern circulating in Ontario. Officials have estimated that approximately 40 per cent of all new infections in Ontario are variant cases.
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.
Manitobans can now get federal proof of COVID-19 vaccination for travel – Winnipeg Free Press
WINNIPEG – Manitobans can now get a federal COVID-19 vaccine passport that will soon be required for international and domestic travel.
People can go to the same website Manitoba has used since June to issue provincial COVID-19 passports and instantly download a federal digital QR code.
“You can print it off to carry it with you, if needed, or you can keep it on your phone or electronic device,” Reg Helwer, minister of central services, said Monday.
The provincial passport has been required to get into restaurants, pro sporting events, cinemas and other venues. Helwer said it is still preferable in those cases because it contains less personal health information than the federal one.
The provincial QR code reveals a person’s name and whether they are fully inoculated. The federal one also contains information on what kind of vaccines were given and on what dates, Helwer said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week announced the plan for a national vaccine passport for travel. Starting Saturday, anyone over the age of 12 who wishes to get on a plane or train in Canada will need to prove full vaccination. There will be a short transition period until Nov. 30 to allow the unvaccinated to show a negative molecular COVID-19 test instead.
Data released Monday shows Manitoba remains in the midst of a fourth wave of the pandemic. Health officials reported 464 new COVID-19 cases over the last four days and two additional deaths.
The province’s chief public health officer said the numbers have ticked upward slightly in recent days, which could be tied to increased socializing over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We saw a day on the weekend there with nearly 150 reported cases, so that’s higher than what we’ve typically seen,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.
“We’re going to have to continue to follow those trends. We’re certainly not done with this fourth wave.”
The province extended its public health orders for another three weeks, with one minor change for a handful of communities just outside Winnipeg.
The communities include Niverville, Ritchot and Headingley. They are part of the southern health region, where vaccination rates are generally low and retail capacity has been capped at 50 per cent.
Starting Tuesday, those communities will be lumped in with Winnipeg and have their capacity limit lifted. Roussin cited their proximity to Winnipeg and high vaccination rates compared to other areas in the southern region.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2021.
Factbox: Countries respond to heart inflammation risk from mRNA shots
Some countries have halted altogether or are giving only one dose of COVID shots based on so-called mRNA technology to teens following reports of possible rare cardiovascular side effects.
Europe’s drug regulator said in July it had found a possible link between a very rare inflammatory heart condition and COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
However, the benefits of mRNA shots in preventing COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks, European and U.S. regulators and the World Health Organization have said.
Here are some of the steps some countries are taking:
The Public Health Agency of Canada said data suggested that reported cases of rare heart inflammation were higher after Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine compared with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots.
The Danish Health Agency said on Friday that it was continuing to offer Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to under-18s, and that a statement on Wednesday suggesting a suspension had in fact been a miscommunication.
Finland paused the use of Moderna’s vaccines for younger people and instead would give Pfizer’s vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. It offers shots to those aged 12 and over.
A panel of health experts advising the Hong Kong government has recommended in September children aged 12-17 should get only one dose of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of heart inflammation as a side effect.
Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 until it has gathered more research. On Oct. 22 the health ministry said there was no urgency given that children have a low risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19.
On Sep. 2 Norway decided on giving one dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children aged 12-15.
Sweden has extended the pause of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine beyond the original Dec. 1 deadline for people aged 30 and younger due to rare heart-related side-effects, the public health agency said on Oct. 21.
The agency said earlier in October that data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults vaccinated with Moderna vaccine Spikevax, and paused the use for all born 1991 or later.
South Africa will start vaccinating children between 12 and 17 using the Pfizer vaccine, the health minister said, as the country looks to ratchet up inoculations ahead of final year examinations.
On the advice of its vaccine advisory committee the government would only give teenagers a single shot of Pfizer’s normal two-shot regime due to concerns that it may affect the heart.
Britain has been offering all 12-15-year-olds a first a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Second doses would not be offered to the age group until at least spring when there may be more data from around the world.
(Compiled by Antonis Triantafyllou; Editing by Joanna Jonczyk-Gwizdala and Tomasz Janowski)
Hong Kong’s zero-COVID policy undermining financial hub status – industry group
A financial industry group warned on Monday that Hong Kong‘s zero-COVID policy and strict quarantine requirements for international travellers threatens to undermine the city’s status as a financial hub.
The Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) said a survey of members, including some of the world’s largest banks and asset managers, showed 48% were contemplating moving staff or functions away from Hong Kong due to operational challenges, which included uncertainty regarding when and how travel and quarantine restrictions will be lifted.
Hong Kong has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world and is virtually COVID-19 free, however unlike regional rival Singapore, which is slowly re-opening its borders, the Chinese-ruled city has no public plan for opening up to international travellers.
Local leaders say their focus is removing restrictions on travel from Hong Kong to mainland China, which also has strict entry restrictions. At present travellers from Hong Kong to the mainland must still undergo quarantine.
“Hong Kong’s status as an (international financial centre) is increasingly at risk along with its long-term economic recovery and competitiveness as a premier place to do business,” Mark Austen chief executive of Asifma wrote in open letter to Hong Kong’s financial secretary Paul Chan.
The letter made a series of recommendations including publishing “a roadmap for exiting Hong Kong’s ‘zero-case’ based COVID-19 strategy beyond solely the immediate goal of opening borders with China”, as well as prioritising vaccinations.
Hong Kong has reported just over 12,300 cases since the start of the pandemic, mostly imported, and 213 deaths.
Regional rival Singapore is expanding quarantine-free travel to nearly a dozen countries, but authorities are grappling with how to do so while averting a surge of Covid-19 cases among older people and those with weak immune systems.
(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Michael Perry)
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