Your COVID-19 Summary for Jan. 8th – Premier’s Assessment of the Pandemic and What’s to Come
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.
- Premier Ford has warned that updated modelling, which is expected to be released early next week, will show “this is the most serious situation we’ve been in…since the beginning of the pandemic.” He stressed that the projections will be a “wake up call…we’re in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you’ll fall off your chair.”
- He noted that lockdown measures may need to be extended as well new measures introduced.
- The Premier urged Health Canada to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 “because we’re in desperate need of it….and that will help us out tremendously.”
- Minister Lecce announced the government will expand the targeted surveillance program in schools to offer asymptomatic testing throughout the province when schools reopen.
- Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed the Canadian Armed Forces approved a request for support to the Fort Albany First Nation in Ontario. The Canadian Rangers will be activated on the ground until at least January 11th.
- The Prime Minister also described the roll out plan for vaccines and Dr. Tam described the process for tracking any adverse effects resulting from vaccinations.
- The COVID Alert app has been updated to work on older models of iPhones (e.g. iPhone 5, 6 and 6 plus).
More details are included below along with an update on cases in Ontario and across Canada.
Calls for Further Public Health Measures:
- Given the serious situation, Dr. Yaffe said “we need to consider all possible measures to contain this infection [because] we don’t want more people dying, we don’t want the ICUs overwhelmed, we don’t want the morgues overwhelmed and I know we don’t want to scare people, but on the other hand….there is too much complacency.
- Dr. Yaffe noted that “They’re starting to have to move patients between hospitals [and] we have more and more outbreaks in congregate care, particularly long-term care.”
- Dr. Yaffe also emphasized that “I think we do need to consider more serious measures, perhaps similar to what happened in the spring and looking at other jurisdictions, what they have done and what has worked.”
- Although no new measures were announced today, Premier Ford reiterated his message that “everything is on the table right now. There will be further measures, because this is getting out of control and we have to do whatever it takes.” He stressed that if the situation doesn’t improve, “we will have to look at more extreme measures.”
Safety-Enhancement Measures in Schools:
- Education Minister Lecce indicated the government has been working on a plan to introduce enhanced safety measures in school that is expected to be operationalized by January 11th.
- The Minister said the extension of students staying on virtual learning will give the government more time to work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health to roll out this plan.
- Minister Lecce announced the government will expand the targeted surveillance program in schools to offer asymptomatic testing throughout the province.
- He said that “all schools and all public health units will be eligible to have the capacity and the testing kits required to do that type of surveillance testing.”
- So far, 9,000 tests have been completed in schools located in hotspots with an aggregate positivity rate of about roughly 2% below the provincial average.
- The government will also invest $380M for HVAC and ventilation improvements, additional PPE, custodial cleaning staff and general staffing needs.
- Dr. Yaffe noted that there was a dramatic increase since the middle of December in the number of children infected with COVID-19.
Crisis in Long-Term Care (LTC):
- Health Minister Elliott described the situation at a nursing home that is reported to have the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the province as “completely unacceptable,” following reports of paramedics finding a patient alone and uncared for at St. George Community Care in Toronto.
- The Health Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to making sure that every long-term care facility is associated with a hospital that can be called on to provide the services needed.
- Premier Ford called the situation heartbreaking and noted that the government had introduced bi-weekly testing for healthcare workers who are inadvertently bringing the virus into LTC.
- Nothing new was mentioned.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution:
- As of 8pm last night, 87,563 total doses were administered in Ontario, including 14,932 doses on Thursday; 4,053 second doses have been completed.
- Premier Ford reiterated his warning that “Ontario will be out of Pfizer’s vaccines by the end of next week.” He noted that Dr. Kevin Smith, CEO at University Health Network has said he’ll exhaust his supply today, along with SouthLake in York Region, The Ottawa Hospital and others.
- Premier Ford said he spoke to the Prime Minister about the need for a more reliable vaccine supply to meet our rapidly growing capacity.
- Premier Ford urged Health Canada to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 as health agencies in other countries have done “because we’re in desperate need of the vaccines here.”
- In response to concerns around the lack of details about when vaccines will be distributed in Northern Ontario, Premier Ford “they’re going to be coming shortly [and]….we’re going to be rolling it out into all regions of Ontario.”
- The Premier explained that “as soon we get the vaccines, we’re going to be vaccinating everyone in Ontario, [specifically] in the healthcare sector, emergency services so and so forth, but we’re going to do mass vaccinations [beginning in] April. [In] April, May and June, we’re hoping we’ll get five million doses every single month. We’ll be vaccinating….160,000 people a day across the province.”
- Media reports indicated that “Ontario will allow pregnant or breastfeeding people to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy:
- Prime Minister Trudeau noted over 124,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country. Over 208,000 Pfizer doses will be delivered weekly for the rest of January.
- Over 171,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be delivered to the provinces and territories by the end of next week.
- Canada is on track to receive approximately 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine by the end of January.
- The Prime Minister said quantities of both the Pfizer and Modern vaccine will scale up in February.
- Major General Fortin indicated that Pfizer has updated their guidelines and procedures for the transportation of their vaccine within the past week. He noted “this means more options for that vaccine to be transported and administered to more sites and in smaller amounts, and that helps…provinces in the administration of the vaccine.”
Reporting on Adverse Effects:
- Canada’s Chief Public Officer Dr. Tam noted the Public Health Agency of Canada is working closely with provinces and territories, Health Canada regulators and other federal jurisdictions to collect information on COVID-19 vaccine safety.
- Starting today that information will be posted on Canada.ca and updated weekly on Friday afternoons.
- The weekly COVID-19 safety report will include information on any adverse effects following immunization but these may not necessarily have been caused by the vaccine. Dr. Tam noted that adverse effects can range from common, mild events such as soreness at the site of injection or a slight fever to more rare, serious events such as a severe allergic reaction.
- As of January 1st, there have been over 115,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Canada with nine adverse events reported. There have been no unexpected vaccine safety issues identified to date.
Increase in Cases and the U.K. Variant:
- As of this morning, Dr. Tam noted there are over 80,250 active cases of COVID-19 across the country and the national average is over 7,600 new cases reported daily for the past week.
- Dr. Tam reported an average 4,336 individuals being treated for the virus in Canadian hospitals, with over 800 of whom are in critical care and 136 deaths are being reported each day.
- So far, there have been 14 cases in Canada of the variant virus first reported in the United Kingdom. Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Yaffe noted there have been six cases of the U.K. variant reported in Ontario. She added “there are probably more that we don’t know about.”
- Dr. Yaffe cautioned that “the variant has been shown to be 56 percent more contagious between people.”
We will continue to monitor and report on key COVID-19 developments to help our members stay informed. Stay well!
Pegeen and Faduma
Trends and Cases in Ontario, Canada, and First Nations on Reserve:
As of January 7th, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:
- 9,968 confirmed positive COVID-19
- 3,288 active cases
- 452 hospitalizations
- 6,585 recovered cases
- 95 deaths
Cases in Ontario: (January 7th as of 10:30am)
- Total number of cases: 208,394; an increase of *4,249
*Due to a data upload delay at Toronto Public Health, approximately 450 additional cases have been included in today’s count primarily from January 5th and 6th.
- Most newly confirmed cases are concentrated in five public health units (e.g. 1,382 new cases in Toronto, 691 in Peel Region, 427 in York Region, and 213 in Niagara 184 in Windsor-Essex County)
- Resolved: 175,309 (84.1%); an increase of 2,738
- Deaths: sadly, 4,882 people have died; an increase of 26
- Hospitalized: 1,446 people were hospitalized; 369 were in intensive care and of those, 250 were on a ventilator
- Long-term care homes (according to iPHIS): 224 active outbreaks; 1,350 confirmed cases in residents; 1,269 confirmed cases in staff; 2,929 deaths among residents and 10 among staff
- Lab testing: 8,366,403 completed; 71,481 tests were completed yesterday; up from 65,772 on Wednesday; while the backlog of tests waiting to be completed increased to 73,067 from 66,970
Cases in Canada: (January 7th as of 7pm)
- Total number of cases: 635,134; an increase of 8,341
- Resolved: 538,267 (84.8%)
- Deaths: 16,579 (2.6%)
- People tested per million: 381,241
- Percent Positivity: 4.2%
Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
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