Saskatchewan government officials reported on Sunday that three more residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Two of the deaths were reported in the Regina zone, both residents were in their 50s. One other death was reported in the south east zone. The resident was in the 80-plus age category.
In hospital, there are 194 COVID-19 positive patients. Of those patients, 44 are in intensive care, including 27 in Regina and 10 in Saskatoon.
According to provincial data, Saskatchewan has never had this many COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care.
The province is also adding 221 coronavirus infections on Sunday. The new cases are located in in the far north east (7), north west (7), north central (3), north east (6), Saskatoon (27), central east (13), Regina (112), south west (4), south central (15), and south east (26) zones. One new case has pending residence information. One case with pending residence information has been assigned to the north central zone.
The seven-day average of daily new cases is 216, or 17.6 new cases per 100,000.
A total of 2,196 cases are considered active in Saskatchewan. The province has also logged another 165 recoveries on Sunday.
As of Saturday, 2,367 variants of concern have been identified by screening in Saskatchewan. Regina accounts for 1,626 of the variants reported by screening.
Saskatchewan Health Authority reports ICU data error
Saskatchewan did not report COVID-19 vaccine data on Sunday as the Health Ministry will be launching a new dashboard on Monday detailing vaccine administration in the province. Sunday’s vaccine data will be included in Monday’s new dashboard.
Officials said 7,200 doses of Moderna vaccine have arrived in Saskatchewan and been distributed to the far north west, far north east, north east and south east zones.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario’s strained intensive care units
By Anna Mehler Paperny
TORONTO (Reuters) – Over the course of a single shift last week, critical care physician Laveena Munshi saw her intensive care unit (ICU) at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital fill with pregnant and post-partum COVID-19 patients.
During that week, the ICU doubled the total number of pregnant COVID-19 patients it had previously seen throughout the entire pandemic. Swamped with patients with complex medical needs, one day Munshi ended up pulling a 36-hour shift.
“You do what you have to do,” she said.
Ontario’s hospitals and ICUs have been crushed by a punishing third coronavirus wave, as depleted resources and overworked staff push Canada‘s healthcare system – often held up as a model for the rest of the world – to the brink.
Last week, Munshi and her colleagues spent agonizing hours discussing what to do if a pregnant woman needed an artificial lung to help her get enough oxygen.
“Having delivery equipment outside an ICU room is never a thing you want to be walking into at the beginning of your shift,” she said. “It just adds an added layer of unnecessary sadness to this whole pandemic.”
By Thursday, ICUs in Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, had 800 COVID-19 patients, with such admissions at the highest point since the pandemic began.
Patients are coming in younger and sicker, driven by more highly transmissible virus variants. Hospital staff say they are seeing whole families infected due to transmission at front-line workplaces that have remained open through lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
Mount Sinai Hospital just added a third ICU. It has seconded non-ICU nurses to help deliver critical care to the most seriously ill patients as it braces for the worst.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be extremely busy, there’s no question,” Munshi said, adding that people most affected by the current wave do not come from privileged backgrounds that would allow them to protect themselves, for example by working from home.
The provincial government has promised more ICU beds and requested medical staff from other provinces.
‘HOW MUCH MORE CAN WE STRETCH?’
Ramping up vaccinations targeting high-risk communities will help bring the third wave under control, experts said. But that will not relieve the immediate pressure on hospitals.
Exhausted staff are pulling overtime shifts and doctors are bracing for the tipping point no one wants to talk about: The activation of a “triage protocol” that will dictate who gets critical care when there isn’t enough for everyone who needs it.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health did not respond when Reuters asked what criteria would activate that protocol.
The protocol provides a standardized way to predict who is more likely to survive the subsequent 12 months, “trying to prioritize so that the most lives could be saved,” explained Dr. James Downar, one of its authors.
It does not include a provision for withdrawing life-sustaining measures, he said.
Raman Rai, manager of the ICU at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital, said she has never seen such a volume of critical care patients.
The hospital has redeployed staff, is treating people in “unconventional spaces,” and is stretching resources so a nurse who might have been responsible for one or two patients now has three, Rai said.
“We have already gone over capacity,” she said. “How much more can we stretch?”
Hospitals have been conducting drills and exercises in preparation for the triage scenario, said Ontario Hospital Association Chief Executive Anthony Dale.
“If it is used, it means we’ve failed as a province,” he said. “This did not have to happen. But are we preparing with everything we’ve got? Yes.”
In Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital on Wednesday morning, the ICU was buzzing with health workers having bedside discussions, punctuated by alarms from pumps and various equipment monitoring patients’ vital signs.
“It’s particularly distressing when we see someone who is 30 years old and healthy who comes in unable to breathe,” said intensivist doctor Hannah Wunsch. She is also seeing younger patients, pregnant patients and whole families with COVID-19.
From a medical perspective much of the work is the same, Wunsch said – save for ubiquitous masks.
“I haven’t seen anyone smile in a long time.”
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Denny Thomas and Bill Berkrot)
Ontario third wave, blame piled on Doug Ford
By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Ontario Premier Doug Ford, facing backlash over his government’s handling of the pandemic, resisted calls to resign on Thursday as Canada‘s most populous province grappled with a third wave of COVID-19 infections that critics said could have been prevented.
With pressure building on hospitals, Ottawa is sending federal healthcare workers to help. Ontario had 3,682 new infections on Thursday and 40 deaths, the highest of any province.
#Dougfordmustresign has trended on Twitter this week, while newspaper editorials and provincial opposition leaders also called on Ford, 56, to step down.
Some 46% of Ontario residents have a negative view of Ford, up nine percentage points from a week earlier, according to an Abacus Data poll on Wednesday. Ford’s Progressive Conservatives(PC) trailed the opposition provincial Liberals by one point in the same poll, ahead of a June 2022 provincial election.
“Mr. Ford’s real mistake has been repeatedly ignoring the deep bench of scientists who are there to advise him, impulsively imposing himself as the province’s Fearless Decider,” an editorial in the national Globe and Mail newspaper said this week.
The premier ruled out resigning on Thursday, almost a week after issuing unpopular orders to close playgrounds and allow police to randomly stop people, both of which were abandoned within 48 hours.
Multiple police departments refused to enforce Ford’s orders while Toronto-area health units unilaterally ordered businesses that experience outbreaks to close.
“I’m not one to walk away from anything,” an emotional Ford told reporters on Thursday. “I know we got it wrong and we made a mistake, and for that I’m sorry.”
Ford said he was apologizing for acting “too quick”. Critics said the problem was that he opened the economy up too fast after the second wave, and then moved too slowly when it was obvious that cases were spiking.
Had Ontario kept stay-at-home measures in place longer in February, the case-count “would not have been nearly as bad as what we’re seeing now,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital.
“We saw case numbers rising for a month … and they were never really acted on,” said Bogoch, who is a member of the Ontario government’s vaccination task force.
Ford extended stay-at-home measures until mid-May last week and on Thursday said his government would provide paid sick leave to workers who need to isolate, a measure many say would have helped prevent the third wave.
On Thursday, Ford said 40% of the province would have at least one vaccine shot by the end of the month.
But the political damage could be lasting.
“It’s going to be a pretty hard hole to climb out of,” said Frank Graves, president of polling company EKOS Research.
Ford, the brother of Toronto’s late mayor Rob Ford who once admitted to smoking crack, has been in power since 2018, sweeping to an unlikely victory after the PC’s former leader was forced to resign in the midst of the election campaign.
During the 2019 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capitalized on Ford’s unpopular cost cuts, attacking him repeatedly while touring Ontario, a crucial battleground province that is home to almost 40% of Canada‘s population.
“This does remind me of 2019 where absolutely the best asset in Ontario for the federal Liberal Party was Doug Ford,” a well-placed Liberal source said.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft)
Canada plan to suspend passenger flights from India, Pakistan
By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s government said it would temporarily bar passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days starting on Thursday as part of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The center-left Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acted after prominent right-leaning politicians complained Ottawa had not done enough to combat a third wave of infections ripping through Canada.
The ban, which takes effect at 11.30 p.m. (0330 GMT Friday), does not affect cargo flights.
India on Thursday recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections amid fears about the ability of crumbling health services to cope.
Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that while Indian citizens accounted for 20% of all international arrivals, they represented over 50% of the positive tests conducted by Canadian airport officials.
“By eliminating direct travel from these countries, public health experts will have the time to evaluate the ongoing epidemiology of that region and to reassess the situation,” she told a news conference.
The conservative premiers of Ontario and Quebec – the most populous of Canada‘s 10 provinces – wrote to Trudeau earlier on Thursday urging him to crack down on international travel.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada would not hesitate to bar flights from other nations if needed.
Britain said earlier that India would be added to its “red-list” of locations from which most travel is banned due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.
In addition, France is imposing a 10-day quarantine for travelers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India, while the United Arab Emirates has suspended all flights from India.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Peter Cooney)
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