January 15th, 2021

Ontario reports record COVID-19 cases, Trudeau confident in vaccine rollout timeline

By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press on January 8, 2021.

A health-care worker riding an escalator watches Ontario Premier Doug Ford speak to the media at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario’s premier warned that tougher restrictions may be coming as the province shattered another record for daily COVID-19 infections, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that Canada will have enough vaccine by September for everyone who wishes to be inoculated.

Ontario reported 4,249 new cases Friday, a record-breaking figure even as it factors in 450 earlier infections which were delayed in the tally. The province also had 26 more deaths.

Ford said more “extreme” measures are possible if residents ignore public-heath rules aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, but he did not offer further details.

The grim figure came as the CEO of a Toronto hospital operating vaccination clinics warned it is about to run out of doses.

Kevin Smith with the University Health Network said on Twitter that there were thousands of immunization appointments scheduled for the weekend.

Ford has warned in recent days that the province is going to run out of vaccine if it does not receive another shipment soon.

Trudeau said in a COVID-19 media update that he and Canada’s premiers discussed the vaccine rollout Thursday during a first ministers conference call.

“We agreed that it is vital that we work together as Team Canada to get vaccines delivered, distributed and administered as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said.

Trudeau said more than 124,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country this week, and that 208,000 more are to be delivered weekly for the rest of this month.

And, by the end of next week, more than 171,000 Moderna vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to provinces and territories, he added.

In all, Trudeau said, Ottawa is on track to deliver about 1.3 million doses of both vaccines by the end of January, with quantities scaling up in February.

The prime minister said he knows how important predictability is to ensuring vaccines are delivered and administered in the most efficient way possible.

“That’s why we’re pleased that we’re able to confirm exactly what doses they’ll be able to get every single week in January, and we’re going to be passing along information on the schedule for February and March soon.”

Those in charge of Canada’s vaccine portfolio and the delivery schedule are confident that every Canadian who wants a vaccine will be able to get it by September, he said.

“That will be significant in terms of getting through this pandemic and making sure that next winter looks very different from this one.”

Trudeau also said the Canadian Rangers are helping the Fort Albany First Nation in northern Ontario deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 2,588 new COVID-19 infections and 45 more deaths, including 14 in the past 24 hours.

The Quebec government announced new measures this week, including a curfew, to curb rising infections, but has chosen to reopen primary schools as scheduled on Monday and high schools a week later.

The province’s education minister said Friday that ministerial exams for high school students have been cancelled.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021.

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