The Ontario government is considering a further slate of restrictions to stem a rising tide of coronavirus infections, as the province wrestles with continued spread of the virus and its variants.
CBC News has learned from a government source that Ontario could see well over 18,000 new daily COVID-19 infections and up to 1,800 patients in intensive care by the end of May, if current trends continue.
On Thursday, the province reported 4,736 new cases — its highest such tally during the pandemic — and 29 additional deaths. Hospitalizations, which have been placing increasing strain on the health-care system, stood at 1,932, with 659 in ICU.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said Ontario was facing a “dire” situation that requires everyone to do their part.
“We must all do everything we can to limit transmission, take the pressure off our hospitals and allow more time to roll out our vaccine plan,” Yaffe said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the province needs to tighten up its stay-at-home order.
“It’s clearly not doing the job,” she said. “We’re 10 days in, and we’re hitting the highest numbers that we’ve seen and that trajectory is still upward — and upward quickly enough that it’s causing alarm.”
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | Vaccine management questioned in Ontario:
As of 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,096,722 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 83,142 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,500.
In Quebec, health officials reported 1,513 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths on Thursday. COVID-19 hospitalizations, as reported by the province, stood at 661, with 159 people in intensive care.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia on Thursday reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 42. In Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, health officials reported two new cases. One of the cases was related to travel within Canada while another was related to international travel, a statement said. New Brunswick reported eight new coronavirus cases. P.E.I. reported two new cases on Thursday.
WATCH | COVID-19 3rd wave takes hold across much of Canada:
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 153 new cases and one additional death on Thursday. The province also reported the P1 coronavirus variant of concern had been detected there for the first time.
Health officials in Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 293 new cases Thursday and two additional deaths. The province said that as of Friday, anyone age 48 or older would be able to book an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
In neighbouring Alberta, 1,646 new cases and five additional deaths were reported Thursday, as British Columbia reported 1,205 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
In the North, no new cases were reported in Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon on Thursday.
Health officials in Nunavut reported the territory’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 in weeks on Wednesday, while Yukon’s top doctor said the P1 variant of concern has been detected in the territory.
WATCH | A COVID-19 case in Iqaluit:
–From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:25 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday evening, more than 138.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 2.9 million.
There is still a “shocking disparity” in global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Tedros, addressing an event of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, said some low- and middle-income countries in the COVAX facility still had not received any vaccines, while others had not received their second round allocation.
In the Americas, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine remained in limbo as a U.S. health panel called for more data before making a decision on how and whether to resume use of the one-dose shot, putting off a vote for a week or more.
Argentina’s government will tighten pandemic restrictions in and around the capital of Buenos Aires to rein in a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, including shutting schools and imposing a curfew from 8 p.m. to limit social activity.
Brazil’s hospitals were running out of drugs needed to sedate COVID-19 patients on Thursday, with the government urgently seeking to import supplies amid reports of the seriously ill being tied down and intubated without effective sedatives.
In Africa, South Africa has agreed to onerous conditions such as non-refundable down payments to secure vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, its health minister said, describing the terms vaccine manufacturers had demanded as “difficult and sometimes unreasonable.”
WATCH | WHO lauds Greece for program to vaccinate refugees:
In the Asia-Pacific region, India reported more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, skyrocketing past 14 million overall as an intensifying outbreak puts a grim weight on its fragile health-care system.
Hong Kong is expanding its vaccination drive to include residents below 30 as it sought to boost the city’s slower-than-expected uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.
In Europe, a top official from the World Health Organization says Europe has surpassed one million deaths from COVID-19. Dr. Hans Kluge said the situation remains “serious” with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week in the 53 countries that make up its European region.
In France, the COVID-19 death toll rose Thursday to more than 100,000, according to the latest hospital figures from the health ministry, a bleak statistic for President Emmanuel Macron’s government. Coronavirus deaths there have now nearly doubled from just over 52,000 at the end of its second lockdown in late November.
Serbia announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the vaccine.
In the Middle East, Iran finalized a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
The state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday that Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, says the contract for enough vaccines to inoculate 30 million people was “signed and finalized.” Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET
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