Canada continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic–by various and varying ways and means–as the coronavirus continues its merciless attacks across the country.
Calling the situation ‘grim,” Canada’s chief public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Tuesday said that 7,500 new patients are being diagnosed daily with the virus and that an average of 122 Canadians are dying from COVID-19 every day.
Collectively, the country appears–more and more–to resemble that little Dutch boy trying to find a hole he can plug in the dike.
- Today at midnight, new rules affecting airline travellers coming to Canada take effect.
- Quebec was expected to announce new COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday that go beyond what any province has tried, including a potential nightly curfew and the first-time closure of some still-active workplaces.
- On Tuesday, Tam broached the idea of delaying the second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to get first doses to more people faster.
Tam said she had asked the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to investigate if it would be warranted to delay the second doses.
“This is a topic of, of course, active discussion,” she said, adding that Canada remains committed to ultimately providing two doses.
Health Canada has approved two vaccines–Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s–and so far about 150,000 people have been given one dose–less that what many officials had hoped for at this point.
On Wednesday, Tam said Canada has now detected 11 cases of the novel coronavirus variant first found in the U.K–up from nine cases on Tuesday.
The British variant is believed to spread much more easily than other forms of the virus.
Meanwhile at midnight tonight, new travel rules governing airline travellers coming to Canada were set to take effect.
The rules, announced last week by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, require travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country.
But all is not running smoothly.
Her story came a day after she reported that the CEOs of the country’s largest arilines–Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing–wrote a letter to Garneau asking him to delay the roll of the mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 testing for travellers returning to Canada until later this month.
The changes come as the two hardest hit areas in the country–the provinces of Ontario and Quebec–continue to seek ways to do battle with the virus.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford held his first news conference in more than two weeks Wednesday, telling reporters that the province is now offering free, voluntary COVID-19 testing at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
“We need to do everything possible to stop this virus from coming into Canada,” Ford said.
Ford said the province will decide in the coming days whether or not more to take impose more stringent lockdown measures–including possibly keeping schools closed–to combat the pandemic.
Ford spoke on a day when Ontario reported 3,266 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 additional deaths.
The province has reported over 200,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,767 deaths since January.
In neighbouring Quebec, Premier François Legault was expected to present details at a 5 p.m. press conference on how the province will respond to increasing cases and increasing pressure on the beleaguered health-care system.
The province, which has seen more cases and deaths than any other province during the pandemic, reported 2,641 new cases on Wednesday and 47 more deaths, bringing to 8,488 the number of people who have died in the province, which has seen just under 218,000 infections.
Radio-Canada reports that Legault has been asked to consider a range of measures, including extended school closures, limits on non-essential construction and manufacturing, and a curfew.
With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press