Canada sees COVID-19 spread at Christmas as first vaccines loom

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The second wave of the novel coronavirus in Canada is worsening as the holidays approach and some areas impose stricter restrictions, authorities said on Friday, with the first vaccines due next week.

A nurse guides people being screened for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on December 10, 2020. REUTERS / Chris Helgren

Although many of the 10 provinces have already cracked down on businesses and limited meetings as the numbers continue to rise, Public Health Director Theresa Tam said more action was needed to reduce pressure on the health system. as hospitalizations increase.

“The current daily count of cases far exceeds the peak of the first wave … There is little indication that this upward trajectory will change without further intensifying public health measures,” he told reporters.

Local authorities must implement “restrictions, closures and control measures” while urging people to cut off their interaction with others, he added, and said that without this action, there could be 12,000 new cases a day in January, almost double the number. the current rate.

Tam said that by December 25, the accumulated death toll in the country could reach 14,920 and the total number of cases 577,000. Canada has so far reported 13,109 deaths and 442,069 cases.

For an interactive chart tracking the global spread of COVID-19, please open here in an external browser.

Howard Njoo, Tam’s deputy, said the second wave was putting enormous pressure on the healthcare system.

In some parts of Canada, “we are about to be completely overloaded,” he said.

Starting Monday, the country’s most populous Ontario province will add two regions to its highest level of lockdown, urging everyone who lives there not to leave their homes except for essential reasons like buying food or seeing a doctor.

Ontario also announced increased sanitary restrictions for five other regions.

The predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec said it was considering new restrictions after banning holiday gatherings. COVID-19 cases in Quebec have risen to approximately 1,500-2,000 per day.


Next week, Canada will become the second Western nation after Great Britain to start getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The vaccines will help end the pandemic,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters. “But right now, our fight against COVID-19 is far from over.”

The first 30,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. are scheduled to arrive in the next few days. (For a FACTBOX on Canada’s first planned vaccines, see)

Regulators have received ongoing requests for three other experimental vaccines, from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson.

The Moderna vaccine is the most advanced on the regulatory path, and Tam said he expects a decision on its possible use “soon.”

Authorities have said they expect to receive 6 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before the end of March. Each vaccine requires two doses, administered approximately three weeks apart.

The United States could also begin a mass vaccination program next week, and US regulators are expected to soon authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.

“This vacation is going to be very difficult,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu, after urging people not to travel and meet up during the vacation period.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Matthew Lewis