Dear OPHA Members,
Here’s your summary of the key announcements and messages conveyed today by our political and public health leaders related to COVID-19. While we had indicated that yesterday was our last COVID update until January 4, 2021, there were several announcements today at the national level and we wanted to share this news with you.
- Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Sharma announced Health Canada has authorized Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
- Prime Minister Trudeau announced 1.2 million doses from both Pfizer and Moderna will be delivered by January 31st.
- Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Njoo and Major General Fortin, VP of Logistics and Operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada provided an update on Canada’s vaccine distribution strategy.
- The Prime Minister announced $70M in funding to the Red Cross, including $35M for their COVID-19 testing assistance response teams to support communities with testing capacity and $35M to outbreak crisis management teams to provide isolation sites and mental health services.
- Prime Minister Trudeau also announced that the UK travel ban has been extended by another two weeks until January 6, 2021.
More details are included below along with an update on cases in Ontario and across Canada.
- Premier Ford welcomed Health Canada’s approval of a second COVID-19 vaccine calling it a “gamechanger,” and emphasizing that “for the first time, we can take the vaccine directly to our priority groups.” The Premier indicated that Ottawa has allocated 53,000 doses of Moderna this month for Ontario.
- Prime Minister Trudeau announced that his government has extended the Canadian Red Cross deployment in long-term care (LTC) homes across Canada until March 31st.
- Red Cross teams will be deployed to 20 additional LTC and retirement homes in Ontario which have yet to be chosen.
- Sadly, some 145 residents of a 254 resident long-term care home in a Scarborough neighbourhood in Toronto have tested positive for COVID-19 and 26 have died. The home is struggling with limited staff capacity and are negotiating a management agreement with the North York General Hospital to get the needed help to address what has been described as a dire situation.
- Prime Minister Trudeau announced $70M in federal funding to the Red Cross, including $35M for their COVID-19 testing assistance response teams to support communities with testing capacity and $35M to outbreak crisis management teams to provide isolation sites and mental health services.
Canada’s Vaccine Strategy:
- Dr. Sharma announced Health Canada has reviewed the Moderna vaccine and found that it is safe and effective. She noted that, “after assessing all the data, we concluded that there was strong evidence that showed the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks.”
- Dr. Njoo said the Public Health Agency of Canada will deliver a series of webinars to prepare healthcare providers for the roll out of the first COVID-19 vaccines to ensure they have the answers to their patients’ questions about the vaccine.
- Maj.-Gen. Fortin noted “Moderna will be the first COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered to Canada’s remote and isolated communities and to Canada’s north.”
- The General indicated “a dry-run was completed last week to confirm the ordering, importation and the shipping processes for the Moderna vaccine [as well as] a fine-tuned temperature monitoring of the shipments in transit…we are ready to deliver up to 168,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week.”
- In response to concerns over a strategy deployed by certain jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, that seeks to maximize the number of first doses administered without reserving a second dose in the hopes the supply chain will provide it later. Dr. Sharma noted “there is variability in terms of when you can give that second dose …[and] based on the trials, Health Canada advises giving the set first dose and then making sure you can give the [other] dose within a month. For example, Dr. Sharma indicated that Pfizer’s second dose should be given after 21 days and Moderna’s second dose given after a month or 28-days.
Holiday Travel Warning:
- Prime Minister Trudeau urged Canadians not to travel this holiday season, cautioning that there is a new mutation of the coronavirus and the situation is very serious in Canada as some hospitals are already at or nearing capacity.
While we will continue to monitor and report on key COVID-19 developments to help our members stay informed, we anticipate that there will be limited news to share over the new week as we head into the holiday period. Wishing you all the best for the holidays and 2021! Stay well!
Pegeen and Faduma
P.S. For those of you that are Globe and Mail subscribers, check out this article today featuring former OPHA board member Sylvanus Thompson’s entitled, “Pandemic Christmas by the barrel: Care packages help residents in island countries with fragile health care systems.”
Details and Links to Other Announcements:
- Support for Non-Profits: The Ontario government is supporting the recovery of the nonprofit sector by investing $41M in 486 projects through the first round of Ontario Trillium Foundation’s new Resilient Communities Fund.
Trends and Cases in Ontario, Canada, and First Nations on Reserve:
As of December 22nd, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:
- 7,615 confirmed positive COVID-19
- 3,005 active cases
- 348 hospitalizations
- 4,541 recovered cases
- 69 deaths
Cases in Ontario: (December 22nd as of 10:30am)
- Total number of cases: 162,663; an increase of 2,408
- Most newly confirmed cases are concentrated in five public health units (e.g. 629 new cases in Toronto, 448 in Peel Region, 234 in Windsor-Essex County, 190 in York Region and 150 in Hamilton)
- Resolved: 139,010 (85.5%); an increase of 2,243
- Deaths: sadly, 4,229 people have died; an increase of 41
- Hospitalized: 1,002 people were hospitalized; 275 were in intensive care and of those, 186 were on a ventilator
- Long-term care homes (according to iPHIS): 161 active outbreaks; 1,053 confirmed cases in residents; 997 confirmed cases in staff; 2,555 deaths among residents and 8 among staff
- Lab testing: 7,527,962 completed; 56,660 tests were completed yesterday; up from 45,265 tests on Monday; while the backlog of tests waiting to be completed increased to 66,976 from 47,872.
Cases in Canada: (December 22nd as of 7pm)
- Total number of cases: 521,509; an increase of 6,195
- Resolved: 431,561 (82.8%)
- Deaths: 14,425 (2.8%)
- People tested per million: 352,605
- Percent Positivity: 3.8%
Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
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Toronto, ON M5H 1L3