The story of two pandemics: Provincial COVID-19 case numbers suggest growing disparity


It was a day of disparity in Canada’s long battle against the novel coronavirus, with some provinces recording alarming numbers of infections on Sunday while at least one province managed to reduce new cases to zero.

Ontario set a daily record with 3,945 COVID-19 cases, while the high case load in neighboring Quebec showed little sign of abating with 2,588 new infections.

The country’s imbalanced pandemic is evident when you compare these numbers with the provinces further east, where Newfoundland and Labrador experienced its first new case in several days on Sunday and Nova Scotia – the province’s largest. most populated in Atlantic Canada – had none.

In the west, although Saskatchewan had no new deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in a week, it still had 307 new infections, while Manitoba recorded 151.

And on the same day that Alberta recorded 811 new cases of the novel coronavirus, New Brunswick had 14 – a huge gap even taking into account the large population differences.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said on Twitter that disease activity remains widespread and the country remains on track for a “continuing resurgence.”

Even though the vaccines will help gain “lasting control” over the virus, she said a “made-in-Canada effort” is needed to keep the pace of progress.

As cases continued to rise – or decline, depending on the province – new rules and strong words targeted the seemingly inexorable progression of the pandemic in Canada.

The new curfew in Quebec is perhaps one of the most severe measures taken by a province to reduce its growing number of cases.

Dozens of residents are already facing fines for breaking the province’s 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has warned his province will experience “turbulent waters” in the coming months.

“Our healthcare system is on the verge of being overwhelmed and we must take all necessary precautions to keep our most vulnerable safe,” he said on Twitter.

“I know it has been difficult. I ask once again. We have to unite, we have to stay together. ”

Mass vaccination won’t happen until spring, Ford said, saying that until then Ontarians must continue to practice social distancing and hand washing.

Indeed, the underlying message from politicians and health officials this weekend was the pressing need to double down on the fight against COVID-19.

Even in Nova Scotia, on a day without a new case, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said the province was “not out of the woods yet” and urged residents to continue to follow the guidelines. public health.

Federal politicians also weighed on the continued spread of the virus on Sunday.

Federal NDP and Green Party leaders were among those who took to a Toronto-area nursing home to call for more action and urgency to immunize at-risk seniors and support overworked nursing home staff. establishments.

Green Party leader Annamie Paul said her father died at St. George Care Community during the first wave of COVID-19 in May. Although he did not succumb to the disease, Paul believed the pandemic contributed to his death as staff members failed to realize that a catheter had been improperly installed.

“By the time the underpaid and overworked staff at this facility realized what was going on, it was too late,” said Paul. “He went to the hospital, he was dead a few hours later. No one in this country, at any stage in their life, should have to die from a preventable bladder infection that can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

St. George was one of 245 long-term care facilities in Ontario that reported an outbreak of COVID-19 on Sunday.

The disease has ravaged nursing homes across the country, with people aged 80 and over accounting for 70% of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada, according to the federal government.

Paul went on to criticize the federal and Ontario governments for not doing more between the first and second waves of the pandemic to protect seniors in long-term care homes, along with what she described as the slow deployment of vaccines and rapid test kits for COVID-19.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also criticized both levels of government, saying both need to do more to protect seniors – and that Canadians don’t care who has jurisdiction.

Federal and provincial governments have disagreed over the slowness of vaccinations, each blaming the other for the problems.

“The federal government needs to play a bigger role. They have the resources and the know-how. They have to work with the provinces to make sure that we are actually getting vaccines into the hands of the people, especially the vulnerable populations, ”he said.

“It’s not enough to have doses available if we don’t get people vaccinated.”

– With files from Lee Berthiaume

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 10, 2021.


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