Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images / Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images
A resurgence of COVID-19 cases driven by virus variants across Canada has forced the country’s largest city to suspend personal learning.
All elementary school students in Toronto will return to distance learning Wednesday without the opportunity to return by April 18, city officials said Tuesday.
“The prevalence of COVID-19 has never been greater in Toronto, where variants of concern increase both the risk of transmission and the risk of serious illness or death,” said a press release announcing the measure. “Stronger public health measures are needed to reverse the growing infection that the province is currently facing.”
City leaders said the order could be extended if cases do not drop.
Dr. Theresa Tam, head of public health in Canada, said Tuesday that the latest COVID-19 wave is coming from infectious variants in many areas of the country.
“With a steady increase in severe and critical illnesses that put a heavy strain on the health care system in many places, it is clear that community-based constraints are needed for some time to come,” she said in a statement.
Since the start of the pandemic, Canada has recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 23,000 reported deaths. Over the past week, experts have seen an average of 6,100 new cases and 31 deaths reported daily, Tam said.
“With increasing rates of infection, we are seeing a greater number of younger adults with COVID-19 being treated in the hospital,” Tam said. “This is a reminder that COVID-19 can affect people of all ages, and serious illness can occur at any age.”
Admissions have increased by 4% from the previous week, and the number of admissions to the intensive care unit has increased by 18%, she said. The B.1.1.7 variant, which causes more serious illness and is considered more fatal, continues to account for more than 90% of COVID-19 variant cases, she said.
Tam urged Canadians to limit their travel as much as possible as health officials try to limit the spread of the third wave.