Weekly COVID-19 Update – March 4th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Provincial Restrictions & Public Health Measures

Lifting of the Province-Wide Stay-at-Home Order

Three regions in Ontario remain under a Stay-at-Home Order including, Toronto, Peel, and North Bay Parry Sound. This order was originally set to be lifted last week, but has been extended until at least March 8th, 2021.

The remainder of the 34 public health units in Ontario are placed into colour-code categories of Ontario’s COVID-19 Framework based on local public health indicators. The colour code framework has five categories including: green, yellow, orange, red and the grey “lockdown.”

This past week Simcoe Mukoka and Thunder Bay regions have been moved from red into grey lockdown, now representing the only regions with the most strict public health measures outside of the three still under the Stay-at-Home Order. Last week Niagara was the only region in grey zone but, it has now shifted to red joining the regions of Lambton, Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph, Durham, Windsor-Essex County, Halton, Waterloo, Hamilton, and York.

Colour zone categories are changed to reflect the local public health data of COVID-19 transmission or its variants.

More 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 were 122 new cases of COVID-19 reported in First Nations in Ontario over the past week. As of Wednesday, March 4th, there are 206 active cases of COVID-19 amongst First Nations communities. There are currently 18 communities that have active cases, which is a decrease of one community from this time last week. The communities with active cases include:

  • Akwesasne
  • Mississaugas of the Credit
  • Kettle and Stony Point
  • Oneida Nation of the Thames
  • Walpole Island
  • Eelunaapeewi Lahkeewiit (Delaware Nation at Moraviantown)
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  • Pikangikum
  • Fort William
  • Fort Severn
  • Grassy Narrows
  • Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
  • Moose Factory
  • Sachigo Lake
  • Nibinamik
  • Six Nations
  • Wabaseemoong
  • Wapekeka

57 out of the 133 First Nation communities in the province have had at least one case since the beginning of the pandemic. The highest concentrations of cases and highest numbers of cases are located in the South West region of the province. There have been 1,268 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Of these cases, 1,048 have been resolved for a resolve rate of 83%. Fourteen community cases have resulted in death with four additional deaths occurring this past week.

Ontario General

Ontario is seeing an increase of COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOC) with VOCs accounting for 18% of positive tests results. This is up from the 7% reported last week and 39% increase.

The province’s weekly average for daily case counts has increased from 1,002 at this time last week to 1,063 as of today. This is the first week with an upward trend in four weeks.

On Thursday, March 4th, Ontario reported 994 new cases of COVID-19 which a slight increase from the 847 reported this time last week. Toronto saw the highest number of new infections with 298, Peel confirmed 171 new cases. Other regions reporting double digit increases include:

  • York Region: 64
  • Ottawa: 49
  • Hamilton: 40
  • Lambton: 39
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 39
  • Niagara Region: 37
  • Halton Region: 33
  • Thunder Bay: 24
  • Durham Region: 23
  • Waterloo Region: 23
  • Sudbury: 18
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18
  • Windsor-Essex: 16
  • Middlesex-London: 12
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District: 10

Ontario’s weekly average positivity rate currently sits at 2.4% which is an improvement from last week’s average rate of 2.7%.

As of Wednesday, March 3rd, there are 668 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the province. This is down from the 700 patients that were hospitalized at this time last week. Of patients currently in hospital, 202 are being treated in intensive care with ventilators.

Ontario is still reporting 23 out of 34 Public Health Units (PHUs) are operating at 70% or more capacity in terms of ICU beds occupied. Two public health units are operating at over 100% capacity including Sudbury and York.

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 March 4th, 2021, the province reported 77 new school-related student cases, 21 new school-related staff cases and 3 individuals not identified. There is at least one reported case of COVID-19 in 683 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools. There are currently 26 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 9, 049 (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 March 4th, the province reported 22 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 11 child-related cases and 11 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 153 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 36 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 2,763 (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

As of March 8th, 2021, the Ontario government has stated regulatory amendments will take effect, such being the exemption of authorized recreational providers from their 3-hour operating limit. This is intended to improve access for before and after school programs for families with school-age children.

For more information visit: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/60465/ontario-takes-action- to-support-working-families-and-improve-child-care

Vaccines

Provincial Vaccine Implementation As of Thursday, March 4th, Ontario reports that 268,118 people have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Immunization appointments are now being offered amongst the general population within at least 10 public health units.

Yesterday, Ontario reporting administering over 30,400 doses of the vaccine which is a record daily high. Public health officials have updated vaccination guidelines stating that the interval between doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine can be as long as 16 weeks. The first dose has effectivity rates of over 90%.

A third vaccine was approved for use in Canada by Health Canada. This vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca, is not recommended for people over the age of 65. The federal government is expected to make an announcement regarding the number of doses expected to be received soon.

Ontario is currently processing the new information and awaiting shipment updates so it may re-evaluating its immunization strategy accordingly. Ontario is also expected to provide clarification around who qualifies as an essential worker within its immunization plan.

More information on Ontario’s vaccination implementation plan and COVID-19 vaccines in general is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario

Please note: vaccines currently available are only recommended for people aged 16 and older. Vaccinations for children younger than 16 are currently in clinical trials. New guidelines are currently being developed for pregnant women.

Border Closures & Travel Restrictions

It has almost been a year since the Canada-U.S. land border was closed for non-essential travel with the most recent extension for March 21st, 2021 announced last week. Canada increased requirements for essential travel across the land border last week, now requiring a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours or proof they had the coronavirus in the

previous 14 to 90 days (therefore having at least temporary antibody immunity). Travelers will then have to quarantine for 14 days.

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. It is now mandatory to self-quarantine for 14-days upon entrance to Canada by flight or land, even with a negative COVID-19 test result. 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 20,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous peoples on reserve with 18,932 now resolved. There are approximately 1,400 active cases in Indigenous communities across the country, which is a decrease of approximately 300 from this time last week.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 877,000 cases with over 2,800 added today. The vast majority of new cases are concentrated in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia. There are currently 29,786 active cases, which is down from the 33,180 active at this time last week.

There are over 825,000 cases now recovered across Canada. Over 22,000 cases have resulted in death. Monitor country-wide case counts and trends here: https://health- infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html

Additional Information & Resources

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