Ontario has declared a state of emergency after the latest modeling put Canada’s most populous province on track to have more than 20,000 new Covid-19 cases a day in mid-February – a nearly ten-fold increase over the current number.
Ontario, which is battling a coronavirus wave that has flooded its hospitals and triggered a nationwide lockdown, could also see about 1,500 more deaths in its long-term nursing homes through mid-February under a worst-case scenario, according to modeling experts who advises the government.
New restrictions, which take effect on Jan. 1
“I know that ordering at home is a drastic measure that we do not take lightly. Everyone needs to be home to stay alive, “said Ontario’s Prime Minister Doug Ford at a media briefing. “Enforcement and inspections will increase.”
Canada began targeted vaccinations in December with current efforts focused on health care workers and long-term care home residents.
The federal government ordered an additional $ 20 million. Doses of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, Justin Trudeau told reporters Tuesday. That would take the total number of doses to be delivered this year to Canada to 80m.
Ontario, the country’s economic engine, has been on lockdown since Dec. 26 with non-essential businesses closed and schools closed for personal learning.
Still, the daily number of Covid-19 cases has risen above 3,500 on average over the past seven days, government data shows. On Tuesday, Ontario reported 2,903 new cases.
Under the worst case scenario, with 7% growth in cases, there would be 40,000 new cases daily in mid-February, while the best case scenario with 1% growth would result in 5,000 new cases every day, Ontario’s data showed. Case growth has recently been above 7% on the worst days, the data show.
In five of the hardest-hit areas of Ontario – including the Toronto area, nearby Hamilton and Windsor-Essex, across the border from Detroit – schools will remain closed until at least February 10th. Childcare for children who are too young for school remains open along with acute childcare for some school-age children.
“We will have to face choices that no doctor will ever make and no family will ever hear,” said Dr. Steini Brown, head of Ontario’s case modeling, during a briefing Tuesday. “People will die from the virus itself and from the congested health system that is unable to respond to their needs.”
Brown warned that the new Covid-19 variant from the UK was already in Ontario and could reduce the doubling time for cases – or how long it takes for case counts to double, currently 30 to 40 days – to 10 days.
Last week, Quebec, Canada’s hardest-hit province, became the first in the country to impose a curfew to curb the spread.