Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

ICU pressures mount as COVID fells younger people; U.S. could help with vaccines

Tam said one of the variants, P1, appeared to be hitting younger people

COVID-19 placed mounting pressure on hospitals, struck a growing number of younger people and dealt a blow to the sporting world, although an American offer of vaccines provided some relief Wednesday.

Several provinces reported high numbers of severely ill patients and concern grew over the spread of highly contagious variants of the virus.

In one hopeful sign, however, U.S. President Joe Biden indicated America plans to send surplus COVID-19 vaccines to Canada, likely the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.

“We’re looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using … and we hope to be able to be of some help and value to countries around the world,” said Biden, who spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Earlier Wednesday, Canada’s top public health officer cited the need to review new data for the last-minute cancellation of a news conference on AstraZeneca vaccine guidelines a day earlier. The National Advisory Commission on Immunization, which currently recommends the shot for those 55 and older, has been looking at the vaccine amid concerns about rare blood-clotting complications, particularly among younger recipients

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have been giving AstraZeneca to people as young as 40 and in Quebec as young as 45.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca advice from national panel delayed by new data on COVID-19 and variants

Meanwhile, a recent surge in hospital and ICU admissions has been particularly acute in Ontario, where experts have warned the system was fast reaching a breaking point. One ICU doctor in Toronto reported the rate of fatalities among younger Canadians had increased dramatically in recent months.

According to Dr. Michael Warner, between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28, one patient under 50 years old in intensive care died of coronavirus disease every five days. In the first 48 days of the third wave, which began March 1, the rate had jumped to one in just 1.78 days.

“Younger daycare workers, ride-share drivers, factory workers — and their families — are dying,” Warner, with Michael Garron Hospital, tweeted.

The Ontario government, which has faced withering criticism over its refusal to legislate paid sick leave for essential workers in light of large workplace outbreaks, said it would present such a program within days.

The province said on Wednesday that 2,335 people were in hospital with the novel coronavirus, with 790 people in intensive care and 566 needing mechanical help to breathe. In all, it reported another 4,212 new cases and 32 more deaths.

Ontario, among others, has urged Ottawa to ban travel from India, which has seen a massive surge of COVID-19, including almost 300,000 new cases and another 2,000 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Federal data show the arrival of 35 flights from India with at least one case of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, with more than one infected person aboard many of the flights.

In Ottawa, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said the federal government was reviewing travel from India. While Canada prefers measures that are not country specific, Tam said India could be a special case due to a “variant of interest” there.

In all, 15,762 Canadian citizens or permanent residents arrived by air April 4-11, another 1,772 were other foreigners, including 1,422 Americans, according to Canada Border Services Agency.

Tam also noted uncertainty about the virulence of new variants but said one of them, P1, appeared to be hitting younger people. Health authorities also said it would be impossible to stop variants entering the country.

Quebec, which has now confirmed its first case of the B. 1.617 “double variant” that has fuelled India’s surge, reported on Wednesday a jump of 1,217 cases, six more deaths, and another 22 patients admitted to hospital. Health officials said another person was in ICU for a total of 178 needing intensive care.

In Alberta, beef-packing company Cargill said it had been forced to hold off on a vaccination clinic for thousands of workers at its plant in High River due to a delay in receiving the Moderna vaccine. Almost half the 2,200 workers at the facility have contracted COVID-19, two fatally.

Alberta reported 1,699 new COVID-19 cases in the province and a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent.

Health officials confirmed another 1,332 variant cases and said variants now make up about 59 per cent of the province’s 18,873 active cases.

Manitoba said it was expanding its vaccine program to include all front-line police officers and firefighters, as well as teachers and other at-risk workers. People in high-risk areas would also soon be eligible for a shot.

Some police in British Columbia pushed back against proposed roadblocks by the province to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The National Police Federation, which represents front-line RCMP officers, released a statement saying it has “grave concerns” about police taking part in enforcing a COVID-19 ban on non-essential travel.

Federation president Brian Sauvé said asking police to enforce roadblocks puts greater pressure on limited resources and exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections.

B.C. reported 862 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and seven more deaths, for a total of 1,546 fatalities since the pandemic started.

A joint statement from the health minister and provincial health officer said more than 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.

Sports also felt the COVID-19 sting. The pandemic prompted the cancellation of the women’s World Hockey Championship in Nova Scotia for a second time.

The third wave of COVID-19 is also playing havoc with the Olympic preparations of Canada’s top track and field athletes who can’t travel to British Columbia to compete in a key event due to the COVID-19 situation in the province.

The pandemic has also caused widespread disruption in courtrooms. Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice ordered deferment of all but the most urgent hearings — both virtual and in-person.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Dan Cumming (l, with Lisa Colwell, LPN) was one of 1,918 people who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at a community clinic in Ashcroft in early May. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Vaccine clinics in Ashcroft, Clinton administered 2,664 first doses

Residents over the age of 18 are still eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine

(from l) Ashcroft councillor Deb Tuohey, mayor Barbara Roden, and councillor Nadine Davenport at the opening of Ashcroft’s new water treatment plant in November 2019. At a recent town hall meeting, council said there are no immediate plans to install water meters in the village. (Photo credit: Christopher Roden)
Ashcroft homeowners face 2.5 per cent property tax bump in 2021

Village is moving ahead with variety of projects, but water metering not on the list of priorities

(from l) Cache Creek councillor Annette Pittman, mayor Santo Talarico, and councillors Wendy Coomber and Sue Peters at a budget meeting, May 7, 2021. (Photo credit: Facebook)
Cache Creek budget bylaws pass with one councillor opposed

Annette Pittman cites several reasons for voting against 30% tax increase and pool closure

James Chase (l) and Joan Henderson of The Equality Project in front of new refrigeration equipment the organization received last year. (Photo credit: Gareth Smart)
Equality Project hopes to get growing with a community garden

Organization is also looking for volunteers to help out at its Stage Road clubhouse

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Brad MacKenzie, advocacy chair for the ALS Society of B.C., says having research projects in the province allows people here to have access to cutting-edge treatments now being developed. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds research chair for Lou Gehrig’s disease at UBC

Pandemic has cut off patient access to international projects

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

A Mountie issued B.C. RCMP’s first ticket for non-essential travel May 1. (Black Press Media files)
Driver ticketed, told to ‘return to Lower Mainland immediately’ by Vancouver Island police

The motorist was originally pulled over for driving-related offences May 1

Children walk back to their classroom while wearing masks and physical distancing at St. Barnabas Catholic School in Scarborough, Ont., in October, 2020. A group of B.C. teachers has issued an open letter calling for the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions for children in B.C. schools. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Group of B.C. teachers calls for easing of pandemic measures for students

Teacher group says ‘response to COVID is out of balance to the cost our youth are paying’

Adam Hamdan has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorist charges given temporary residence in Canada

Adam Hamdan had been facing deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship through his Palestinian parents

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

Most Read