Canada continues to see rising new daily cases and hospitalizations of coronavirus as officials warn the variants are spreading rapidly, and are a threat to younger Canadians.
“Even if the end of the pandemic is in sight, the variants mean the situation is even more serious. We’re entering the final stretch of this crisis, we just need to stay strong a little longer,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Covid-19 briefing in Ottawa Tuesday.
Trudeau announced that Pfizer has once again agreed to move up its deliveries of vaccines to Canada. But even with four approved vaccines, public health officials say it will do little to mitigate the burden in hospitals during this third wave of the pandemic.
“The ongoing increase in infection rates is now playing out in our hospitals with rising trends in severe and critical illnesses, placing renewed strain on the health system,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor, said speaking alongside Trudeau.
Tam declared Canada was going through a “third resurgence” of the pandemic but added that with the majority of the elderly population vaccinated, those 80 years of age and over were not so far being affected by the uptick in hospitalizations.
Tam also said there has been a 64% increase in new variant cases detected in Canada in the last week alone. She said the vast majority are the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the UK, and described the current variant spread reported as the “tip of the iceberg.”
The province of British Colombia imposed a “circuit-breaker” lockdown this week, closing indoor dining, requiring more masks in schools and prohibiting fitness indoors.
And in Ontario, hospital officials say they are ramping up to provide critical care for younger patients who doctors say are now more vulnerable to the virus.
In a report released Monday, Ontario’s scientific advisory panel released data suggesting the new variant cases are responsible for a doubling of intensive care unit admissions over the last several weeks.
“COVID-19 patients in ICUs who are younger than 60 years is about 50% higher now than it was prior to the start of the province-wide lockdown,” the report states.
The scientific advisory panel provides guidance and research so the government can update its recommendations amid the pandemic.
Many parts of Ontario, including Canada’s largest city Toronto, have already been in some form of lockdown for more than four months.