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

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Steve McAdam (left) is studying substrate conditions in the Nechako River and how they impact sturgeon eggs. The work will help design habitat restoration measures, said McAdam. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sturgeon egg studies to help inform future habitat restoration

“It’s an interesting, challenging issue,” says Steve McAdam

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read