Toronto is reporting nearly 800 new COVID-19 cases as the province’s death toll from the virus topped 4,000 on Wednesday.
Provincial health officials logged 2,139 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 43 more deaths on Wednesday, a notable increase compared to the 20 fatalities recorded on Tuesday.
The previous single-day high for deaths in the province during the second wave was on Dec. 10 when 45 people died.
At least 4,035 people infected with COVID-19 have now died in Ontario.
Of today’s new fatalities, 33 victims were 80 years old and over, six were between 60 and 79 years old, three were between 40 and 59 years old, and one was between 20 and 39.
Twenty-two of the fatalities were long-term care home residents, compared to only one a day ago.
There are currently 135 long-term care homes with an active outbreak of the virus across Ontario.
The province reported a record 2,275 new infections on Tuesday, due in part to a later cut-off time for when local public health units could submit their data to the province. The previous single-day record was on Dec. 10 when 1,983 cases were reported.
A total of 1,940 new cases were recorded on Monday, 1,677 on Sunday and 1,873 on Saturday.
According to the Ministry of Health’s data, more than 49,100 tests were processed in the last 24 hours, up from 39,566 a day ago.
There are currently 65,597 tests under investigation.
The seven-day rolling average now stands at 1,962 compared to 1,839 a week ago today.
Provincial health officials say there are 2,043 more recoveries from the virus in Ontario and 17,084 active cases.
Most of the new cases continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area, as Toronto, Peel Region and York are currently in a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.
“Locally, there are 780 new cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham and 111 in Windsor-Essex County,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Wednesday.
Toronto recorded 711 new infections a day ago. The previous single-day high in Toronto was on Dec. 1 when the city logged 727 cases.
Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region recorded 143 new cases, up from 92 a day ago, while Halton Region logged 55 new cases, down from 65 on Tuesday.
To date, there have been 146,535 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since January and more than 125,400 recoveries.
Hospitals prepare surge capacity plans
The number of patients hospitalized for the virus continues to climb across the province, threatening the health-care system’s ability to effectively accommodate all patients.
There are currently 932 people hospitalized with the virus compared to 921 a day ago. Of those patients, 256 are in intensive care units and 157 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
On Tuesday, the CEO of Ontario Health sent out a memo ordering hospitals in the province to prepare to activate their surge capacity plans within 48 hours in response to the spike in cases.
President Matt Anderson said the province has entered a “critical phase” of the pandemic where there is widespread community spread.
The memo calls for regions in the grey and red levels of the province’s tiered COVID-19 response framework to ensure at least 10 to 15 per cent surge capacity of staffed adult inpatient beds for COVID-19 within 48 hours.
In a statement from The Ontario Hospital Association, they say the current situation is “far more serious” than what occurred in the first wave.
“In late December and into January, hospitals appear increasingly likely to face a wave of seriously ill COVID patients that will almost certainly disrupt other acute care services and operations. The threat to Ontario’s hospitals risks being even worse if people gather in person over the holidays,” the statement reads.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch spoke to CP24 this morning and reiterated that the health-care system won’t be able to “cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients and simultaneously care for everybody else.”
“In these high-burden areas they’ve got to make space for more and more and more patients because we are seeing very high rates of COVID-19 in the community and of course many people land in hospital, sadly some people land in the ICU and some people die,” Bogoch said.
Bogoch added that although Ontarians have started to receive COVID-19 vaccines this week the impact won’t be seen for some time.
“While vaccines are really truly on the horizon it’s going to be a few months before we really start to ramp up those vaccine programs to get everybody safe. We’re measuring that in months and quite frankly this hospital capacity issue is a problem from about a month ago and is continuing to be a problem and is expected to be a problem moving forward as well at least through January when we’re probably going to see a surge in cases related to the holiday season,” he said.
WestJet Boeing 737 MAX flight grounded at Calgary airport after ‘potential fault’ warning – Global News
According to WestJet, Flight WS658 had passengers on board and was getting ready to take off, when it was “returned to the gate after push back.”
“After a normal engine start, a standard function of the health monitoring system indicated a potential fault that needed to be verified and reset,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said in an emailed statement.
“This process takes time and requires a subsequent engine run, which we do not perform with guests on board.”
1st Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada after grounding
Stewart said the flight was cancelled, and the 35 passengers were instead put on Flight WS662, boarding a planned Dreamliner flight “only because we didn’t want to keep them waiting.” The aircraft’s return flight, WS665 from Toronto to Calgary, was also cancelled.
The Boeing 737 MAX was cleared for flight shortly after the passengers got off, and is set to return to service on Sunday, Stewart said.
According to the Calgary airport’s website, WS658 was set to take off at 8 a.m. Stewart said all of the guests on the original flight have since landed in Toronto.
WestJet flew Canada’s first commercial flight on a 737 MAX in almost two years just one day prior, after the aircraft was taken out of Canadian skies following two deadly crashes.
Chris Bauenbusch, president of CUPE Local 4070 which represents WestJet’s flight attendants, was on the cancelled flight, working as a flight attendant, when the plane had to return to the gate.
He said in the airline industry, it’s “common to have the odd hiccup here and there.”
“Obviously there’s a heightened focus on a model of aircraft coming back into service, such as what’s happening with that aircraft,” he said. “But these are common things that happen on a daily basis.”
Bauenbusch said from a union perspective, they have no issues with their members flying on the aircraft.
“The union maintains… that this is a safe aircraft, through all the rigor that it’s been put through,” he said.
In a statement, Transport Canada said it was aware of the flight that “opted to return to the gate.”
“We understand the pilots made this decision due to a cockpit warning light that signaled before departure,” the agency said.
“This incident is not related to the previous grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 vaccine delay doesn't take away from Ont.'s failures: Doctor – CTV News
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WestJet halts Boeing 737 Max jet before takeoff after warning light in cockpit – CBC.ca
WestJet temporarily grounded a Boeing 737 Max jet that was supposed to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday after a warning light came on in the cockpit prior to takeoff.
Flight 658 was boarded and preparing to take off when a warning light came on.
“After a normal engine start, a standard function of the health monitoring system indicated a potential fault that needed to be verified and reset,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart told CBC News.
“This process takes time and requires a subsequent engine run, which we do not perform with guests on board [so] in the interest of our guests’ time, we cancelled Flight 658 and its return 665 (Toronto/Calgary), and we rebooked them on the next available flight to ensure a timely arrival in Toronto.”
The airline says passengers were boarded onto a 787 jet and flew as planned within the hour.
Jet in question cleared to fly again
The jet in question has already been cleared and is on track for its next flight on Sunday.
The Calgary-based airline’s fleet of 13 Max jets were grounded for almost two years after more than 300 people died in two high profile crashes of the jets, operated by Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air in 2018 and 2019.
WestJet grounded its fleet of Max jets like most airlines around the world did until earlier this month, when flight authorities cleared the jets for takeoff again.
The flight would have been the jet in question’s first flight since being approved for use again, and only the third Max flight at WestJet overall since reintroduction this week.
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