COVID 19-How is Canada Coping?

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Tam believes preventative measures are working, but it is not yet time to relax. New cases across the country have decreased, but with a third wave predicted for April, we should still be vigilant. Many of the recent new cases have been variant strains of the virus, which are still unfamiliar to health experts and should be treated with caution. The variants have been proven to spread faster, so the government urges citizens to continue to keep their distance and wear a mask.

As of right now, almost 1.5 million vaccines have been administered across the country, with 640,000 more due this week alone. This is a new record for the country.

Johnson & Johnson plans to launch its own vaccine in the coming weeks. The drug company is still awaiting the approval from federal regulators, at which point it will ship 20 million doses to the U.S. Canada has ordered 38 million doses from the company, which is pending approval from Health Canada. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot vaccine, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines already being circulated. The company hopes to distribute 1 billion doses by the end of the year.

Alberta is beginning a round of vaccination among its seniors this week. As with other provinces, vaccination will start with the most vulnerable groups and work backwards. Ontario health officials expect to be able to expand vaccination efforts in a few weeks time, and tell citizens they can expect further news soon.

Canada’s new hotel quarantine rules took effect Monday, February 22nd.

Due to the spike in covid-19 variations seen across the country, the government is issuing a mandate for travellers to be verified upon arrival. Anyone arriving at a Canadian land border must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test. If they have none, they will be asked to take a swab test before proceeding through. Air travellers are also requested to quarantine for three days as an additional precaution, and if they are awaiting test results. This is on top of the standard 14-day quarantine period after travel.

Manitoba is tightening up some COVID guidelines. It is ending an exemption from quarantine for household members of someone who tested positive for the disease. Close-contact guidelines are also being modified; anyone who spends 10 minutes with an infected person must isolate and get tested.

Ontario is reporting lesser cases than recent months. However, the province is advising students to stay at home if they feel any symptoms at all, as an extra preventative measure. Ontario, along with its neighbouring province of Quebec, were hit hard during the second wave of the pandemic.

Both Ontario and Quebec are easing lockdown restrictions after months. The provinces, which saw a massive surge in cases towards the end of 2020, closed down to prevent further spread. Ontario issued a stay-at-home order, while Quebec enacted a nighttime curfew.  New cases were in thousands per day for several weeks on end. The phased reopening began in low-transmission communities early in February. The provinces will continue to reopen gradually as advised by health officials. 

Atlantic Canada has been doing well lately. Newfoundland had less than 15 new cases, while New Brunswick and Nova Scotia both reported really few cases. Prince Edward Island saw a sudden surge to 22 cases, the highest ever since the Pandemic started last year. They closed down for 3 days, and reopened since the cases were finally traced. Massive testing across age groups did not find positive results.

The whole country is facing a nursing shortage. This had already been happening prior to COVID, but now more nurses are leaving the profession as a result of higher job stress. One of the problems is the limited seats for prospective nursing students allotted by the government. Health officials are looking for solutions to this shortage, and in the meanwhile, encourage Canadians to take all precautions against COVID-19 and continue to support healthcare staff, especially nurses.

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