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Ontario COVID-19 variants driving third wave; advisors want stay-at-home orders

Last Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 9:39 am PDT

A man walks into the main entrance to St Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THECANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn THECANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

'It is killing faster and younger,' says co-chair of Ontario Science Advisory Table

For seventh day in a row, Ontario reported more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – The third wave of COVID-19 in Ontario is being driven by infectious variants that are straining that province’s hospitals with increasingly ill patients.

A co-chair of the Ontario Science Advisory Table says younger people are getting sick with more infectious forms of the virus. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown says entire families are being hospitalized at once.

“It is killing faster and younger. It’s spreading far more quickly than it was before and we cannot vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave. This is the challenge of the new variants,” he said.

Science advisers say stay-at-home orders are needed in Ontario to control the third wave. The advisory table make the findings in its latest pandemic modelling data, released Thursday.

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Brown says short-term case projections will depend entirely on the public health measures implemented by the government and vaccination rates. He says the province’s vaccine rollout is not reaching the highest risk communities and that is delaying its impact as an effective strategy to fight the pandemic.

Several sources suggest the province is poised to enter a month-long lockdown in an effort to curb the rise in cases. In that scenario, patios — which just re-opened in Toronto and Peel region, would close, while restaurants and bars would be allowed to remain open for take-out and delivery.

Non-essential retail would be allowed to stay open with very limited capacity.

Stay-at-home orders expired weeks ago when the province transitioned to a colour-coded pandemic response system. Brown says the spread of variants threatens the province’s health system’s ability to deal with regular intensive care admissions and care for all patients.

For the seventh day in a row, Ontario reported more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while the number of patients in intensive care units (ICU) reached the highest number (421) since the pandemic began last year.