At a press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau warned that hospitalizations were on the rise, intensive care units were filling up and coronavirus variants were spreading.
“Around the world, countries are facing a very serious third wave of this pandemic, just like Canada is right now,” he said.
“Even though the sun is shining and the weather warms, COVID-19 is not done with us yet.”
Canada has reported at least one million cases of COVID-19 and more than 23,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.
A recent increase in cases and hospitalizations in several provinces, including the most populous Ontario and British Columbia on the west coast, has prompted calls for stricter public health measures to stem the spread of the virus.
British Columbia health officials have reported cases involving the coronavirus variants first discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
“We know that this is largely the variant[s], and it appears to be a more transmissible strain and it also seems that people are getting sicker with some of these variants, ”said Dr Gerald Da Roza, chief of medicine at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, Colombia -British, on CBC News.
“Some people say it’s the busiest we’ve been in 15 years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Trudeau told reporters he plans to speak to Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford on Tuesday.
Ontario has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks and imposed limited lockdowns over the weekend. On Tuesday, it reported 3,065 new cases, with the seven-day average for new infections reaching 2,862.
The situation has renewed pressure for the province to grant paid sick leave, as many workers deemed essential during the pandemic were unable to take time off when they were ill, which advocates say is fueling the spread. virus.
Andre Picard, health columnist for The Globe and Mail, said the latest modeling data estimated Ontario could see as many as 6,000 new COVID-19 infections per day – up from 2,500 now – and 800 patients in care intensive by the end of April.
Picard criticized the province’s measures, questioning why “relatively low-risk activities such as alfresco dining are stopped, while high-risk activities such as large church services may continue” and detail remain open.
“As the third wave of the pandemic continues to gain momentum, we apparently haven’t learned anything from the previous two waves,” he wrote.
Ford’s government has also faced widespread criticism for failing to administer COVID-19 vaccines quickly, despite large supplies and widespread demand.
Although Canada’s federal government approves and secures coronavirus vaccines, it is up to each province to set the rules for how vaccines are given and to whom.
CBC News reported that an average of 72,543 shots are administered in Ontario each day, although it has the capacity to receive up to 150,000 gunshots. In total, the province had administered more than 2.6 million jabs Monday evening.
In a separate press conference on Tuesday, Ford said the province would expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, targeting people with underlying health conditions and their caregivers, as well as geographic hot spots that have experienced an increase in cases.
He also said Ontario was “finalizing plans to vaccinate workers in settings where we see outbreaks.”
“Last week I said we were in a fight with a new, rapidly changing enemy. The game is changing and we need to change our response to stay ahead of this virus, ”said Ford.
The spread of the variants has raised concerns among doctors and other healthcare workers, who say young people are getting sicker and sicker and need to be hospitalized.
Last week, more than 150 intensive care physicians across Ontario wrote an open letter to the provincial government, urging it to put in place tougher public health measures to stem the spread of the virus – and new variants in it. particular.
“We are seeing younger patients on ventilators – many are parents of school-aged children. We see entire families coming together in our intensive care units. We take care of people who contracted COVID-19 at work, or who followed all the rules and only went out for groceries, ”they wrote.
“The impact of this virus has been disproportionate, infecting those most at risk, usually from low-income and racialized communities. Current measures and framework do not contain the spread of this virus. “
Today, there are 430 COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s ICUs, the highest number on record.
– Kali Barrett (@DrKaliBarrett) 1 avril 2021
The situation also prompted a federation of high school teachers to ask Ford on Tuesday to order schools in areas where the number of cases has increased to immediately switch to distance learning.
The Toronto Star newspaper reported that all schools in Toronto – Canada’s largest city – would be closed from Wednesday due to the spike in infections.
A similar school closure was ordered Monday in Peel Region, an area home to an estimated 1.5 million people west and northwest of Toronto, where students will have access to distance learning for at least two weeks.
“With the increase in the number of cases and the presence of worrisome variants, we must break the chains of transmission and keep our schools safe,” Peel Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said in a statement. communicated.