January 15th, 2021

Concerns mount over hospital capacity as Ontario hits 5,000 COVID-related deaths

By The Canadian Press on January 11, 2021.

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. In a bid to control COVID-19, the federal government plans to make free vaccines available to everyone who lives in Canada over the course of 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool.

Ontario’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 5,000 on Monday as officials in several parts of Canada expressed concerns about the ability of their health networks to handle a rising tide of cases.

Ontario reported 29 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus – along with3,338 new cases and 80 additional COVID-related hospitalizations.

Premier Doug Ford has confirmed additional restrictions are under discussion in light of dire new COVID-19 projections that are set to be made public on Tuesday.

Quebec, which has reported a Canada-high 8,737 deaths, reported 1,869 new infections and 56 more COVID-related hospitalizations.

Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the province’s vaccination campaign is advancing well, but the situation in its hospitals is concerning, especially in Montreal.

Canada’s chief public health officer said Monday that hospitalizations and deaths were still rising across the country.

About 4,336 people were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day last week, with an average of 811 in intensive care, Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

“This situation continues to burden local health-care resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest,” she wrote.

“These impacts affect everyone, as the health-care workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs.”

Quebec has imposed a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. in order to limit transmission and ease the burden on the health-care system.

While there had been speculation that Ontario would follow suit, senior government sources with knowledge of the measures being considered confirmed Monday that public health officials were not recommending an overnight curfew.

The news was more positive on the economic front, as the leaders of Canada’s top banks expressed confidence that an economic rebound is on the horizon, especially given the arrival of promising vaccines.

However, the consensus at the Royal Bank of Canada’s Canadian Bank CEO conference was that things will remain difficult in the short term as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Royal Bank of Canada chief executive Dave McKay said the economy could likely be reopened when between 4 million and 4.5 million high-risk Canadians have been vaccinated against the virus. But some sectors of the economy, including small businesses, hospitality businesses and transportation companies, are likely to take longer to recover.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

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