The rising tide of COVID-19 infections across much of Canada threatens to swamp a hospital system already under strain, the country’s top doctor warned Saturday amid case numbers that continued to set records in long-standing virus hot spots.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam described the situation in Western Canada, Quebec and Ontario as “worrisome” hours after the central provinces posted new single-day highs for provincial case counts. The soaring numbers there and beyond, she contended, have potential to overtax the country’s hospitals.
“This situation … it is putting pressure on local healthcare resources,” she said in a statement. “Hospitals are being forced to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in areas of the country to manage (increases).”
But in Steinbach, Man., where a day earlier the president of the province’s nurses union said nurses reported having to triage patients in their cars at the local hospital because of a lack of space in the Emergency Department, a large group gathered for an anti-mask rally.
Enhanced restrictions came into effect in Manitoba on Thursday barring social gatherings outside immediate household members.
Lewis Weiss, a local reeve who spoke at the rally but was not an organizer, said he followed the rules by keeping well away from everyone else but still received a $1,296 ticket from a provincial official for disobeying a public health order.
“We’re not protesting masks. We’re protesting the way they went about it,” said Weiss. “They’re closing the little stores in the malls but the big Walmart can stay open.”
The province said in an email that it appeared from social media posts that there was enforcement at the rally, but that officers were still at the scene and it couldn’t confirm who was handing out tickets.
RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said police partnered at the rally with provincial health officials, who she said were there to “monitor and issue fines.”
“RCMP used a measured approach during today’s event and will be working with Manitoba Public Health to further investigate breaches of the Public Health Order,” Courchaine said in an email.
Tam said the number of people with severe cases of COVID-19 continues to increase with a daily average of more than 1,400 people being treated in hospitals over the past week.
That includes a daily average of 280 people in critical care and 55 deaths reported each day over the past seven days, she added.
But Tam warned that those numbers lag behind overall case increase figures by one to two weeks.
“The concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” she said.
Tam said Western provinces saw a weekly increase in daily hospitalization between 24 to 50 per cent compared to last week.
While Ontario and Quebec saw lower increases, those provinces continue to have the highest numbers of people in hospital, she added, saying flu season is also straining hospital capacity.
“This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low,” she said.
Tam urged Canadians to follow public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. At the current pace, it is estimated that there will be 10,000 cases daily by early December, she said.
“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine, through our decisions and actions,” she said.
Tam’s warnings come as Ontario and Quebec set new single-day records for new cases in the past 24 hours.
Ontario recorded 1,581 new diagnoses and 20 new deaths on Saturday, while Quebec posted 1,448 cases and 25 deaths linked to the virus.
Manitoba added 237 to its case count, along with multiple deaths tied to a long-term care facility in Winnipeg that’s the subject of a provincial investigation.
Saskatchewan reported 308 cases on Saturday, though said the figure was inflated by a testing lull triggered by a snowstorm that kept prospective patients at home. The sharp spike comes a day after the province’s daily tally dipped to 81, a low not seen for days.
Nunavut, meanwhile, reported four more cases, bringing the territory’s overall count to eight.
The surging figures also come as Canadians across the country prepare to start celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among many political leaders urging celebrants to recognize the holiday virtually this year in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I know celebrations will look different this year,” he said in a video statement posted to social media. “But the message at the heart of the day – that light, hope, and knowledge will always triumph over darkness, evil, and ignorance – remains the same, and it has never been more important.”
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.
B.C. COVID-19 vaccine plan: Who gets priority and what is the schedule? – Global News
Henry said Thursday there will only be enough for people in priority groups to start, including vulnerable seniors and health-care workers.
“We are planning to be able to put vaccines into arms, and the first week of January is what we’re planning for to make sure we are absolutely ready, by then at the very least,” Henry said.
She expects there will be two vaccines available to start — the Pfizer vaccine, which is under review right now by Health Canada, and the Moderna vaccine, which is currently in the process of obtaining notice of compliance in Canada.
Henry said it is expected that Canada will get about six million doses of the vaccine and those will be distributed across the country.
Federal government, provinces and Canadian Armed Forces ramp up COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan
The Canadian military has been brought in to help figure out how the vaccine is going to be distributed and administered and the deep freezers needed to store the vaccine are set to be plugged in and ready to use by Dec. 14.
However, it will be up to the provinces to decide who is at the front of the line.
“Our first priority is to make sure we are protecting those who are most at risk,” Henry said Thursday, namely “our seniors and elders in our communities and long-term care homes and in hospitals, here in B.C.”
“Once we have more vaccine available, we will be making it available to all of us in B.C. And that’s when we can get to that point of managing and controlling this pandemic.”
Henry added they are expecting more vaccine doses to be available by April, 2021, and that by Sept. 2021, everyone who wants a vaccine will have received one.
“So, we expect there will be a good lot of people who will be immunized by the summer and through the fall next year, but by the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized,” Henry said.
More details on the rollout plan in B.C. are expected to be released next week.
British Columbians divided over mandatory vaccinations
It seems British Columbians are still divided at this time on whether or not they will get the vaccine when it becomes available.
Henry said Wednesday the province does not have a mandatory vaccine program and health officials do not expect COVID-19 immunizations to be mandatory.
Last week, polling done exclusively by Ipsos for Global News showed a drop in support for a mandatory vaccine since the beginning of the month, when it stood at 61 per cent.
That support now stands at 59 per cent, a total drop of 13 percentage points since May 2020.
As well, even though 59 per cent said they would support mandatory vaccination, more than 70 per cent also said they feel nervous about taking a vaccine that was created and rolled out so quickly.
Sixty-nine per cent cited the potential for long-term effects as a major concern.
Tackling vaccine hesitancy amid fight to end COVID-19
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Facebook to remove COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation – StCatharinesStandard.ca
LONDON – Facebook said Thursday it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation.
In the coming weeks, the social network will begin taking down any Facebook or Instagram posts with false information about the vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.
The U.S. tech giant is taking action as the first COVID-19 vaccines are set to be rolled out. Britain this week became the first country to give emergency authorization for a vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and innoculations could start within days. Regulators in the U.S., the European Union and Canada are also vetting vaccines.
Facebook said it’s applying a policy to remove virus misinformation that could lead to “imminent physical harm.“
Posts that fall afoul of the policy could include phoney claims about vaccine safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects.
“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,“ the company said in a blog post.
Conspiracy theories about the vaccines that are already known to be false will also be removed.
Facebook has taken other steps to try to stop the spread of vaccine and coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform. From March to October, it has removed 12 million posts with coronavirus-related misinformation. The deleted posts include one by President Donald Trump with a link to a Fox News video of him saying children are “virtually immune” to the virus.
In October, the company banned ads discouraging vaccinations, though it made an exception for advocacy ads about government vaccine policies. The company has also promoted articles debunking COVID-19 misinformation on an information centre.
COVID-19 update: B.C.'s health ministry to give details on latest cases, deaths, outbreaks – CTV News Vancouver
British Columbians will get one more COVID-19 update before the weekend, as the province’s health ministry will release details from the past 24 hours.
Friday’s COVID-19 update will be revealed in a written statement and will explain the number of new cases, deaths and outbreaks recorded since the day before.
On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix gave an in-person briefing and revealed another 694 people had tested positive for the disease. That pushed the number of active cases over 9,000 or the first time ever in the pandemic and the total number of cases over 35,000.
Another 12 people died from the disease, which marked the 10th day in a row that the province had seen deaths in the double digits.
Updates to the temporary, sweeping orders put in place last month are expected Monday. It’s not yet known if they’ll be extended or withdrawn.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kendra Mangione
What you need to know about COVID-19 antibody tests – Toronto Star
B.C. COVID-19 vaccine plan: Who gets priority and what is the schedule? – Global News
Chinese national flag debuts on moon: CNSA – Global Times
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
Tech20 hours ago
Walmart Canada site crashes selling PS5, upsetting potential buyers – Yahoo Canada Finance
Tech9 hours ago
FIFA 21 PS4 Vs. PS5 Graphics Comparison – Forbes
Real eState7 hours ago
5 Reasons for Tenants to Buy Instead of Renting – An Economic Perspective
Tech14 hours ago
Xbox Series X/S now available on Walmart Canada's website [Now sold out] – MobileSyrup
Media20 hours ago
Media Beat: December 03, 2020 – FYI Music News
Health19 hours ago
More COVID-19 cases discovered at Saanich Peninsula Hospital – Times Colonist
Science17 hours ago
Chinese moon mission begins return to earth with lunar rocks – Global News
Science18 hours ago
Massive telescope collapse caught on remote camera and drone in Puerto Rico – CBC.ca