Weekly COVID-19 Update

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Provincial Restrictions & Public Health Measures
Lifting of the Province-Wide Stay-at-Home Order
On Tuesday, February 16th, Ontario lifted its Stay-at-Home-Order for 27 more public health unit regions in the province. These 27 regions have now been placed into colour-code categories of Ontario’s COVID-19 Framework based on local public health indicators.

On February 19th, Ontario announced that the Stay-at-Home Order would remain in place for the regions of Toronto, Peel, and North Bay-Parry until at least March 8th, while York region would be permitted to join the remainder of Ontario in the colour code framework.  

The colour code framework has five categories including: green, yellow, orange, red and the grey “lockdown.” Niagara is currently the only region in the framework that remains a grey zone. The other regions fall into the full range of colour categories based on local public health indicators. You can check your region’s colour zone and associated restrictions here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

Ontario has stated that if cases of COVID-19 or its variants begin to increase or spike as restrictions are lifted, regions will be moved back into grey “lockdown” zones, as required.

Information on Ontario’s different colour zone restrictions is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open#section-

Confirmed Cases
First Nations in Ontario
There are currently 153 active cases in First Nation communities across Ontario, which is exactly 6 cases less than this time last week. There are currently 12 communities that have active cases, which is down from the 16 communities last week. Communities with active cases include:

  • Six Nations
  • Fort William
  • Akwesasne
  • Fort Severn
  • Wabaseemoong
  • Eabametoong
  • Oneida Nation of the Thames
  • Walpole Island
  • Kettle and Stony Point
  • North Spirit Lake
  • Eelunaapeewi Lahkeewiit (Delaware Nation at Moraviantown)
  • Northwest Angle #33

54 out of the 133 First Nation communities in the province have had at least one case since the beginning of the pandemic. The South West region has experienced the most cases. There have been 1,076 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Of these cases, 909 have been resolved for a resolve rate of 84%. Fourteen community cases have resulted in death with two death occurring over the past week.

Ontario General
Overall cases of COVID-19 have continued to trend downwards across the province, though there are increased instances of Variants of Concern (VOC). VOCs account for 7% of current positive tests, which is unchanged from last week.

The province’s weekly average for daily case counts has slightly increased from last week‘s 1,002, witting at an average of 1,884 daily new cases. The highest number of daily new cases reported over the past seven days was 1,228 on February 20th.

On Wednesday, February 24th, Ontario reported 1,054 new cases of COVID-19. This is an increase from the 847 reported last Wednesday. Toronto continues to see the highest numbers of new infections with 363 reported today. Peel has the second highest number of new case counts with 186. The numbers for these two regions are both increased from this time last week. Numbers are down for York region where 131 new cases were reported at this time last week compared to the 94 reported today. Other regions reporting double digit increases today include:

  • Simcoe Muskoka: 53
  • Windsor-Essex: 50
  • Thunder Bay: 45
  • Waterloo Region: 44
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Hamilton: 38
  • Durham Region: 35
  • Halton Region: 26
  • Niagara Region: 13
  • Middlesex-London: 10

Ontario is processing an average approximately 45,400 tests daily, which is a decrease of about 9% from last week. Ontario’s weekly average positivity rate currently sits at 2.8% which is a 0.1% increase from last week’s average.  As of February 23rd, the reproductive rate for all of Ontario is at .99%, which just manages to achieve the 1% rate required for the disease to die out. (Note: the reproductive rate varies across the different regions of the province with the highest sitting at 1.19% for the North).

As of Wednesday, there are 718 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the province. This is down from the 742 patients that were hospitalized at this time last week. Of patients currently in hospital, 200 are being treated in intensive care with ventilators. This is also a decrease from last week.

Ontario is reporting 20 out of 34 Public Health Units (PHUs) are at 70% or more capacity in terms of ICU beds occupied. Southwestern public health is the only area operating at over 100% capacity.

Further detail on case numbers and demographics in the province is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

Education Update

March Break Postponed

On February 11th, 2021, Minister Lecce announced that, “In support of our collective efforts to keep schools safe, we are postponing March break until April 12-16, 2021. This decision was made with the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health.”

This postponed date, does not reflect First Nations/Federally operated schools as they each have their own jurisdiction to make this decision. That being said, Standing Stone School and Quinte Mohawk School will continue their march break as planned for March 15th-19th, 2021.

For more information go to: https://news.ontario.ca/en/statement/60325/ontario-delays-march-break-in-an-effort-to-reduce-community-transmission-of-covid-19

First Nation/Federally Operated Schools

First Nation communities have the continued authority to determine their own locally identified measures of protection. Access updated guides, resources, and policies for First Nations from the Ministry of Education’s Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/operational-guidance-covid-19-management-schools

COVID-19 Cases in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools

As of February 24th, 2021, the province reported 89 new school-related student cases, 18 new school-related staff cases and 5 individuals not identified. There is at least one reported case of COVID-19 in 401 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools. There are currently 16 of Ontario’s publicly funded schools with a reported case of COVID-19 that were closed due to outbreaks or operational considerations. The cumulative total of all school-related cases reported since September 5, 2020, is 8, 282 (this includes resolved cases).

The Ontario Government is putting new health and safety measures for staff, students, and children to which those with just one symptom of COVID-19 (as indicated by the screening tool, see attachment Ontario School and Child Care Screening; expect updates on tool) must stay home until:

  • They receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
  • They receive an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional, or
  • It has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.

All asymptomatic household contacts of symptomatic individuals are required to quarantine until the symptomatic household member:

  • receives a negative COVID-19 test result, or
  • receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional

If the symptomatic individual tests positive or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.

Moreover, students and staff are asked to not engage in vigorous physical activity indoors but rather at a moderate pace outdoors where physical distancing is possible. Masks should not be worn for high intensity activity. Change rooms should only be used if completely necessary to accommodate physical distancing and limited capacity.

COVID-19 Cases in Child Care Centres & Home Care Agencies As of February 24th, the province reported 27 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 19 child-related cases and 8 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 126 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 15 centres closed due to virus outbreaks. This brings the cumulative total of all COVID-19 cases reported in child care and home care since June 12th, 2020 to 2,608 (this includes resolved cases).

A detailed list of the schools, licensed child care centres, and homecare agencies with COVID-19 cases can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-cases-schools-and-child-care-centres

Complimentary to this list, is the COVID-19 Dashboard that maps confirmed school-related COVID-19 cases in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools across the province: http://covid19schooldashboard.com

Vaccines
As of February 14th, 2021 all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes should have received their first vaccine dose. Ontario currently reports having administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine with 251,590 people having received two doses and considered to be fully vaccinated.  Approximately 17,000 vaccines are now being administered daily across Ontario.Planned Vaccine Schedule – Indigenous
According to the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs Ontario, Elders in all First Nation communities (aged 55 and over) should receive their first vaccine by the end of February. Vaccinations should have already rolled out in all long-term care and elders residences within First Nations communities.

Indigenous peoples continue to be considered a priority population by health officials and Vaccine Distribution Task Force Tables and Sub-Tables.

Ontario’s Vaccination Distribution Task Force and First Nation Sub-Table has identified a risk classification system for First Nation communities based on a number of risk factors. Adults living in communities classified as high-risk should expect to be vaccinated by the end of February 2021. Adults in the next highest tiers of risk will be vaccinated subsequently throughout the month of March 2021, pending vaccine availability and access generally and within local public health units. An urban Indigenous vaccination roll out processes will happen concurrently.

Planned Vaccine Schedule – General Population: Elderly
On, February 24th, Ontario announced it will be launching an online portal for booking vaccine appointments as well as a telephone booking system. The launch date is set for March 15th, 2021, at which time people in Ontario aged 80 and over will be able to book an appointment to be vaccinated. Officials indicated that anyone not in this age range will not be able to book an appointment until weeks later outlining the following plan:

  • April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over
  • May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over
  • June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over
  • July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over

Planned Vaccine Schedule – General Population: Essential Workers
Ontario officials stated this week that essential workers should be able to get vaccines as early as May 1, 2021. Details around who qualifies as an essential worker are yet to be determined and officially announced.

Vaccine Access: General
Vaccines for the general population will be delivered through a combination of mass vaccination clinics, community centre programs, and pharmacies. Each public health unit will eventually be expected to give out up to 10,000 doses per day, though some larger health units are expected to be delivering considerably more. Access for the general populous will largely be based on postal code and dosage availability within local public health units.

The vaccines currently available (Moderna and Pfizer) are only recommended for people aged 16 and older. Vaccinations for children younger than 16 are currently in clinical trials and new guidelines are currently being developed for pregnant women.

Further detail on this plan and COVID-19 vaccines in general is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario

Federal Procurement and Approvals
On February 24th, Canada announced that it expects to have administered vaccines to all Canadians willing to receive one by September 2021. On Friday February 19th, the millionth person in Canada received their first COVID-19 vaccine dosage.

Canada recently reported an influx of vaccine dosages that has enabled an increase in the pace of vaccine rollouts and improved timeline projections.

More information on federal vaccine procurement and disbursement is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/covid-19-vaccine-treatment/vaccine-rollout.html#a4

Border Closures & Travel Restrictions Since the beginning of February 2021, Canada has required people arriving in Canada by flight to quarantine in an approved hotel for up to three days until they receive results from a COVID-19 test taken at the airport. Since this time, all international flights entering Canada have been funnelled into four airports including the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

Since January 2021, air travellers aged 5 years and older have been required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. Upon entrance to Canada, it is mandatory to self-quarantine for 14-days even with a negative COVID-19 test result.

The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed for non-essential travel as it has since March of last year. The most recent extension holds the land border closure in place until February 21st, 2021. This will likely be extended again. All non-essential travel continues be strongly discouraged.

Provincial Travel Restrictions
Provinces and Territories across Canada have varying restrictions for entry. It is recommended to research each region’s policies prior to any essential travel.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly advises that individuals and families only travel out of the province if it is essential and self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in or returning to Ontario.

Confirmed Cases – First Nations Across Canada There are now over 19,633 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous peoples on reserve with 17,020 resolved. There are approximately 1,254 active cases in Indigenous communities across the country, which continues an overall downward trend.

More information from Indigenous Services Canada is available here: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1589895506010/1589895527965

Confirmed Cases – Canada General

Canada now has confirmed over 852,000 cases with 2,760 added today. There are currently 30,677 active cases, which is down about 3,000 from this time last week.

Of the total cumulative cases, nearly 800,000 have recovered. Over 21,762 cases have resulted in death with 40 deaths reported this Wednesday, February 24th.

Monitor country-wide case counts and trends here: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html

Additional Information & Resources

InfoPoint Health managers can call or email to ask specific questions. Toll free: 1-855-446-2719 or Email:Infopoint@fnhma.ca

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