“Canada continues to face an incredibly serious situation with this third wave, cases are rising rapidly in many cases, in many places, numbers are higher than they have ever been before and many hospitals are stretched way too thin,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference Friday in Ottawa.
He said the situation was particularly grave in Ontario, with Toronto now seeing records shattered and hospital beds filling up.
Ontario broke more pandemic records Friday for daily cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions.
“There is every reason to believe that we’re now in the final although toughest stretch of this pandemic, this is not the moment to let up, not even for a second,” said Trudeau adding “This is the moment for us to dig deep at what is hopefully the very late stages of this pandemic for us all.”
There was a 35% increase in hospitalizations and a more than 20% increase in ICU admissions in the last week alone, public health officials said. More worrying is the 38% increase in deaths in the last week, they said.
The situation is particularly serious in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province.
“Notice that our hospitals can no longer function normally, they are bursting at their seams,” said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Ontario’s science advisory co-chair. “We’re setting up field hospitals and we’re separating critically ill patients from their families by helicoptering them across the province for care, our children’s hospitals are now admitting adults as patients. This has never happened in Ontario before, it’s never happened in Canada before,”
Based on new pandemic projections, demand for acute care is expected to spike in the weeks to come no matter how many more restrictions are put in place, Brown said.
Strict lockdown measures extended in Ontario
Late Friday, Ontario extended its state of emergency and stay-at-home order until at least May 15.
The province said it also would restrict interprovincial travel and erect checkpoints to enforce that mandate while ordering that non-essential construction shut down beginning Saturday.
All outdoor recreation activities such as golf courses, playgrounds, basketball courts, and soccer fields, will be closed. And even gathering outdoors with people who don’t live in the same household will be prohibited. Indoor gatherings between households have been banned since earlier this month.
All of Canada’s largest provinces are scrambling to contain the effect of variants, especially in in low-income pockets of Canada’s largest cities.
“The relative risk of these variants over the older version of COVID is much higher, higher for admission, higher for ICU and higher for mortality. And affecting younger populations with much less of an inoculum or virus load causing infection very quickly,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health during an update Friday in Toronto.
Trudeau echoed the fatigue of millions of Canadians who have now been through many months of lockdowns and restrictions, revealing that he had an argument with his 13-year-old son Friday morning, telling him that public health measures were still needed.
“Xavier is 13-years-old and he misses his friends, he doesn’t want to be doing school online, he wants to go outside and play basketball with his friends, he wants to have the normal life that quite frankly we all want right now,” he said, “But the reality is we know that the best way to get through this is for each of us to follow local public health rules.”