The Canadian province of Ontario expanded and extended a stay at home warrant on Friday and said police will be given new powers to stop and question people leaving home as expert advisers warned new cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise, overwhelming hospitals.
Ontario also announced restrictions on non-essential travel from neighboring provinces from Monday and said non-essential construction, including construction projects in malls, hotels and office towers, will close from Saturday to accommodate a furious third wave.
“The reality is that there are few options left,” said Prime Minister Doug Ford. “The difficult truth is that any public health measure we have left comes at a high cost to people.”
New projections published Friday by a provincial advisory group showed that new cases topped 10,000 per day in June if “moderate” public health measures remain in effect for six weeks and vaccination levels remain roughly the same. Ontario, home to 38% of the Canadian population, announced a record 4,812 cases on Friday.
Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the advisory panel, said the moderate scenario equates to a stay-at-home order announced last week. The number of patients requiring intensive care could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday, the prognosis showed.
The dire prediction came when Moderna (MRNA.O) said it would cut its next delivery to Canada by nearly half to 650,000 doses, and Canada announced a deal to purchase an additional 8 million Pfizer vaccine doses. read more
In recent weeks, Ontario has closed schools and restaurants, curtailed retail stores and canceled elective surgeries as a wave of admissions threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
HOSPITALS UNDER PRESSURE
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian government would help hit Toronto, the province’s capital and largest city in the country.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help,” Trudeau told reporters. “Discussions are underway about additional healthcare providers, and we are ready to take it a step further.”
Trudeau said Canada had agreed to purchase 8 million additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, including 4 million to be delivered in May, nearly doubling Pfizer’s shipments that month. Federal officials had previously said that most Canadians should receive a first dose by the end of June.
In north Toronto, Sunnybrook Hospital is preparing to open a mobile health unit, basically a field hospital, for some COVID patients next week, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The city’s University Health Network (UHN) is installing tents on two emergency rooms to increase space.
The number of patients in UHN with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, an artificial lung treatment sometimes used to keep the sickest COVID patients alive, reached 23, including 20 with COVID. The hospital network had previously said it could treat up to 30 patients.
Separately on Friday, Health Canada said it had received a request from Pfizer and BioNTech to extend the use of its vaccine to children 12 and older, ages 16 and older.
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