OTTAWA — Only a small fraction of the 40,000 new ventilators Canada ordered for hospitals last spring have already been delivered but several companies involved say their production lines will start delivering the products faster in the next few weeks.
The promise of new arrivals comes as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Friday that a fall surge of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the health-care system, including its supply of critical care beds and ventilators.
“What we know based on what we learned from other countries and cities that had a devastating impact in that initial wave, if you exceeded that capacity the mortality goes up really, really high,” she said.
Flu season and other respiratory infections common in the fall could put added pressure on the system if COVID-19 flares up in a big way.
Tam said there were many lessons learned from the spring, when the government was ill-prepared and without enough protective equipment for health-care workers, and feared a massive surge of COVID-19 would overwhelm the health-care system.
“We are much better prepared than we were before,” she said.
In March, Canadians watched in horror as northern Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak overran its health-care system, leaving doctors to choose which patients got a ventilator and which were left without one. That experience, coupled with warnings it could happen here too, compelled federal and provincial governments to order thousands of new ventilators.
But much like surgical face masks and N95 respirators, Canada didn’t already produce many ventilators domestically, and getting them from international sources is tough when global need for new ventilators is in the hundreds of thousands. So Canada asked firms here if they could step up, and out of that four new consortiums to build ventilators were formed.
A fifth contract was signed with Thornhill Medical, a Toronto firm that at that point was making about 50 of its portable breathing machines a month.
In all, Canada ordered 40,328 ventilators, for an estimated $1.1 billion, and as of Friday, it had just 606 in hand.
Paul-Emile Cloutier, the president of national health-care advocate HealthCareCAN, said there is concern about the status of the government’s orders for personal protective equipment and ventilators ahead of the possibility COVID-19 will surge again in Canada this fall.
“Details are crucial as we prepare for the expected next wave of COVID-19,” he said.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday the government is pushing on to get the entirety of the orders in place. A statement from her department said “Canada currently has sufficient ventilators to meet current demands” and that the ones on order are to bolster existing Public Health Agency of Canada stockpiles, as well as the units already in hospitals and provincial warehouses across the country.
But Health Canada won’t say how many ventilators the country now has in total. It will also not disclose any modelling for how many could be needed in a worst-case scenario situation. In March there were about 5,000 ventilators nationally, and another 500 in the national emergency stockpile.
Canada’s ability to plank the COVID-19 curve in the spring meant warnings about running out of ventilators never came to fruition.
John Walmsley, the executive vice president at Starfish Medical in Victoria, said that took the pressure off his new coalition, Canadian Emergency Ventilators, Inc.
“We have a little bit more elbow room to do things in a bit of a controlled manner but I would say we’re looking to get it done this year,” he said.
“We’re all concerned about a second wave and being ready for that and so we’re on board to deliver for that.”
Canadian Emergency Ventilators is still waiting for Health Canada approval before it can start shipping its promised 7,500 machines. It submitted the documents in June and it is taking a bit longer than expected to get the green light.
Once that happens, the Public Health Agency of Canada would have to test the product, and then the units that have already been built could be shipped, said Walmsley. He is still hopeful to fill the order by the end of the year.
Thornhill Medical CEO Lesley Gouldie said her company’s partnership with Linamar, a manufacturer based in Guelph, Ont., has been a great success. Thornhill is to provide 1,020 machines to Canada, and has shipped 27 so far.
Gouldie said Linamar can make as many as 100 of the units a week, but getting the supplies for the 1,500 parts that make up their portable device proved to be difficult in a pandemic.
“The limiting factor is the supply chains,” Gouldie said.
She said the kinks are mostly worked out now, and she expects to ship enough machines each week to fulfil their contract by early December.
Rick Jamieson, the CEO of FTI Professional Grade, said they expect to fulfil their entire contract for 10,000 ventilators by Dec. 12. FTI is one of several companies in a consortium called Ventilators for Canadians, which has already delivered 132 ventilators. Another 120 are on track for delivery next week and 240 in the last week of August.
“We have activated a fourth shift to increase production knowing that a second wave is likely this fall and winter,” said Jamieson.
Montreal’s CAE received Health Canada approval for its new ventilator on June 17, and said that day it expected to begin shipping “hundreds each week.” It has a contract to deliver 10,000.
The final company, Vexos, was the last to sign a contract, and had to submit its product to Health Canada as well, and began shipping in late July.
COVID-19 outbreak declared at fifth Ottawa school, 52 schools with a COVID-19 case – CTV Edmonton
With COVID-19 cases reported at 52 schools across Ottawa, public health officials warn staff and students are beginning to contact COVID-19 while at school.
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Lycee Claudel, the fifth outbreak at an Ottawa school since the start of the school year three weeks ago. Ottawa Public Health reports two students at the French private school have tested positive for the virus.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health says it’s starting to see that some students and staff are getting sick from interactions at school.
“The first handful of cases were of students and staff that went to school unknowing that they were sick with COVID, meaning they became infected with COVID outside of the school setting,” said the statement from Ottawa Public Health.
“Over the last couple of weeks, OPH is starting to see that some students and staff are now getting sick from interactions at school. These are situations when OPH declares an outbreak.”
COVID-19 cases have been reported at 52 schools with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Ottawa Catholic School Board, and the French public and catholic school boards.
Speaking on CTV Morning Live Thursday morning, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said her goal was to keep schools open during the pandemic, adding that takes limiting the COVID-19 transmission in the community.
Ottawa Public Health says once an outbreak is confirmed in a school, it reaches out to parents of close contacts to let them know and help them with the next steps, which include staying home, monitoring for symptoms and presenting for testing when it’s appropriate.
COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared at the following Ottawa schools:
- Ecole elementaire catholique Montfort
- Gabrielle Roy Public School
- Lycee Claudel
- Monsignor Paul Baxter School
Ottawa Public Health ordered Monsignor Paul Baxter School closed for at least two weeks following four cases of COVID-19. Two students and two staff members have tested positive.
Ottawa Public Health says in the event of a school outbreak, the ability for the school to remain open will depend on how many groups of students are affected. Some cohorts may be advised to go for testing and to self-isolate at home until a date determined by OPH.
“If there is sufficient evidence to indicate that there is risk of spread to additional cohorts, there may be a decision to close the entire school in order to stop transmission in the school.”
Here is a breakdown of the COVID-19 cases in Ottawa’s schools:
Ottawa Carleton District School Board: Nine students (eight students, one teacher tested positive)
Ottawa Catholic School Board: 11 schools (14 students, two staff members tested positive)
Conseil des ecole Catholique Centre-Est: 21 schools (32 cases in all schools)
Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario: 11 schools (15 student cases in schools)
Ontario College of Teachers asks retired teachers to return to the classroom to address teaching shortage during pandemic – CTV Edmonton
The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) warns there is a shortage of certified teachers in the province during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the college, the teacher shortage has been magnified by smaller class sizes since the start of the school year.
In a letter sent to former and retired members, OCT is asking people to reinstate their memberships and return to work if they can, to help provide relief in the classroom.
“In short, you are needed. Your significant and specialized knowledge and skills are needed,” said the letter.
The letter encourages people to pursue job opportunities with local school boards.
CTV News Ottawa has reached out to several Ottawa school boards about this shortage.
The Conseil des ecoles Catholiques Centre-Est has job positions for substitute and permanent teaching positions in Ottawa, Carleton Place, Kingston and Pembroke.
Public health officials call for tighter restrictions, warn COVID-19 could spiral out of control – Yahoo News Canada
Infectious disease experts say Canadian health authorities must tighten restrictions again or hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 will increase exponentially in the coming weeks.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Echoing comments made Tuesday by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who said Canada is at a crossroads in its pandemic battle, experts in public health are urging governments to take decisive action to prevent the current resurgence of the virus from spiralling out of control.” data-reactid=”33″>Echoing comments made Tuesday by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who said Canada is at a crossroads in its pandemic battle, experts in public health are urging governments to take decisive action to prevent the current resurgence of the virus from spiralling out of control.
Canada reported 1,248 new cases Wednesday, and on Tuesday the country’s most populous province, Ontario, reported its highest number of new cases since early May.
Tam outlined projections that show new cases could climb to 5,000 daily by October if we continue on the current course.
“To date, we’re not moving fast enough to get ahead of this,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease physician based at a Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “I think we’re being lulled into a false sense of security because of the low numbers of hospitalizations and deaths [relative to earlier in the pandemic]. But they will come in the next six weeks or so.”
He said asking people nicely to tighten their social circles is not going to be enough.
“I think that appealing to people’s better natures — that, hey, you should be careful and you should make sure you limit your contacts — I don’t think that that’s going to work, to be perfectly frank.”
Gardam said Canadians grew fatigued with the restrictions imposed on their social circles earlier in the year and won’t be eager to return to them unless pressed.
“I think we’re going to have to be a lot more forceful,” he said.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Adjusting bubbles” data-reactid=”61″>Adjusting bubbles
That means demanding Canadians tighten their social circles, and backing that up with enforcement.
“I would argue that we need to be very cautious, like we were back in March, in order to weather the storm from all the increased contacts that we’ve had.”
Right now, “people are playing fast and loose with bubbles all over the place,” said Gardam.
If you increase the number of contacts that you have, this is going to go to hell real quick. – Michael Gardam, infectious disease physician, Women’s College Hospital
Instead, he says we need to rethink social bubbles now that school is in session again.
“We’re all going to have to pay the price because our kids are in school now. So what are we giving up?
“If you want to keep the restaurants open and bars, maybe you have to give up your private gatherings,” he said. “Because if you just increase in every dimension, if you increase the number of contacts that you have, this is going to go to hell real quick.”
The actions taken in the next two weeks could change the trajectory of the months to come, said Laura Rosella, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health,
“There’s a lot of things with this pandemic that we can’t control, but we might be able to control who we interact with, especially socially, and who’s in our bubble,” said Rosella, who holds a PhD in epidemiology.
“I would encourage everyone to rethink what their bubbles are given the new situation, especially if something’s changed, if someone’s gone back to work, someone’s entering a school situation and especially if vulnerable people are in their bubbles.”
Rosella said her advice to Canadians is to “really think through what is absolutely necessary” when it comes to interactions with others.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More than a blip” data-reactid=”98″>More than a blip
Rosella said Canadians can’t afford to ignore the changes happening with COVID-19.
“We’re not in the August situation anymore. There’s clearly an uptick of cases,” said Rosella, “The fact that we’re already on that trajectory tells me that the likelihood of this being just a small blip, that we’re not going to notice and we can carry on, is pretty low.”
“We are going to experience a significant increase that we’re going to have to manage and react to. It could be worse if we do nothing. And if we act, we could minimize the impact of it.”
Dr. Samir Gupta, a clinician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto, said getting a handle on this COVID-19 surge means returning to restrictions implemented earlier in the pandemic.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Speaking with Heather Hiscox on CBC Morning Live Wednesday, Gupta said Canadians "need to start making similar sacrifices to the ones we made the first time around," which was successful with flattening the curve in the spring.” data-reactid=”123″>Speaking with Heather Hiscox on CBC Morning Live Wednesday, Gupta said Canadians “need to start making similar sacrifices to the ones we made the first time around,” which was successful with flattening the curve in the spring.
Without enforcement, “we risk overwhelming our health-care system capacity … [and getting] into real trouble,” he said.
“We don’t want to have to turn people away and not be able to take care of people who are sick with this virus. And that’s the biggest risk we face.”
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