VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Health officials in Ontario and Quebec are scrambling to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants as the third wave of the pandemic sends infections soaring.
Ontario has seen nearly 6,000 new cases in the past two days, with Peel Region’s top doctor ordering all schools to be closed.
Dr. Lawrence Loh says he is ordering schools in the southern Ontario region, including Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, to close starting Tuesday. The schools will move to online learning only and will remain closed until April 18. Loh says the closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure.
Toronto’s top doctor Eileen da Villa is calling the rising case rates in the city horrific.
Mayor John Tory is working on a plan to vaccinate high-risk workplaces but wants expanded paid sick leave programs to help workers stay home and self-isolate. He said the plan would involve mobile vaccination units that are already being used in some hard-hit neighbourhoods.
Tory says the federal and provincial governments should work together to improve the paid sick day program to help workers stay home and isolate. The Ontario government has said it will not duplicate the paid sick leave program run by the federal government.
Quebec is locking down five municipalities south of Quebec City Monday evening. It is reporting 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths.
Health officials say hospitalizations rose by one, to 503, and 123 people were in intensive care, a drop of five. Quebec has reported a total of 317,364 COVID-19 infections and 10,697 deaths linked to the virus; it has 10,271 active reported infections.
B.C. saw a record-breaking long weekend for daily COVID-19 cases. The province’s daily counts topped 1,000 both for the time periods between Thursday to Friday, and Friday to Saturday. The expectation is that trend will likely have continued into this week, with concerns raised about variants, how younger people are being affected, and the increasing pressure on hospitals.
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Manitoba is reporting 135 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths over the last two days. The current five-day test positivity rate is 5.1 per cent provincially and 4.3 per cent in Winnipeg.
Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 in the Halifax area. Health officials say one case is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada, one involves a contact of a previously reported infection, and one is under investigation. Nova Scotia has 32 active reported infections.
New Brunswick is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19, with health officials there saying seven cases in the Moncton region are under investigation. They say three cases in the Edmundston area involve contacts of a previously reported infection. New Brunswick has 168 active reported COVID-19 cases and 14 people in hospital with the disease, including eight in intensive care.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting no new COVID-19 cases. Health officials in the province haven’t reported a new infection since April 1. The province has four active reported cases. It has reported a total of 1,020 COVID-19 infections and four deaths linked to the virus.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccine selfies are popping up on social media feeds as more Canadians roll up their sleeves and get jabbed.
Experts say the selfies can encourage others to overcome their vaccine hesitancy and can be a powerful tool to combat online misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. But some say the pictures may make anyone who hasn’t been able to book an appointment jealous.