Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

ICU pressures mount as COVID fells younger people; U.S. could help with vaccines

Tam said one of the variants, P1, appeared to be hitting younger people

COVID-19 placed mounting pressure on hospitals, struck a growing number of younger people and dealt a blow to the sporting world, although an American offer of vaccines provided some relief Wednesday.

Several provinces reported high numbers of severely ill patients and concern grew over the spread of highly contagious variants of the virus.

In one hopeful sign, however, U.S. President Joe Biden indicated America plans to send surplus COVID-19 vaccines to Canada, likely the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.

“We’re looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using … and we hope to be able to be of some help and value to countries around the world,” said Biden, who spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Earlier Wednesday, Canada’s top public health officer cited the need to review new data for the last-minute cancellation of a news conference on AstraZeneca vaccine guidelines a day earlier. The National Advisory Commission on Immunization, which currently recommends the shot for those 55 and older, has been looking at the vaccine amid concerns about rare blood-clotting complications, particularly among younger recipients

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have been giving AstraZeneca to people as young as 40 and in Quebec as young as 45.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca advice from national panel delayed by new data on COVID-19 and variants

Meanwhile, a recent surge in hospital and ICU admissions has been particularly acute in Ontario, where experts have warned the system was fast reaching a breaking point. One ICU doctor in Toronto reported the rate of fatalities among younger Canadians had increased dramatically in recent months.

According to Dr. Michael Warner, between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28, one patient under 50 years old in intensive care died of coronavirus disease every five days. In the first 48 days of the third wave, which began March 1, the rate had jumped to one in just 1.78 days.

“Younger daycare workers, ride-share drivers, factory workers — and their families — are dying,” Warner, with Michael Garron Hospital, tweeted.

The Ontario government, which has faced withering criticism over its refusal to legislate paid sick leave for essential workers in light of large workplace outbreaks, said it would present such a program within days.

The province said on Wednesday that 2,335 people were in hospital with the novel coronavirus, with 790 people in intensive care and 566 needing mechanical help to breathe. In all, it reported another 4,212 new cases and 32 more deaths.

Ontario, among others, has urged Ottawa to ban travel from India, which has seen a massive surge of COVID-19, including almost 300,000 new cases and another 2,000 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Federal data show the arrival of 35 flights from India with at least one case of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, with more than one infected person aboard many of the flights.

In Ottawa, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said the federal government was reviewing travel from India. While Canada prefers measures that are not country specific, Tam said India could be a special case due to a “variant of interest” there.

In all, 15,762 Canadian citizens or permanent residents arrived by air April 4-11, another 1,772 were other foreigners, including 1,422 Americans, according to Canada Border Services Agency.

Tam also noted uncertainty about the virulence of new variants but said one of them, P1, appeared to be hitting younger people. Health authorities also said it would be impossible to stop variants entering the country.

Quebec, which has now confirmed its first case of the B. 1.617 “double variant” that has fuelled India’s surge, reported on Wednesday a jump of 1,217 cases, six more deaths, and another 22 patients admitted to hospital. Health officials said another person was in ICU for a total of 178 needing intensive care.

In Alberta, beef-packing company Cargill said it had been forced to hold off on a vaccination clinic for thousands of workers at its plant in High River due to a delay in receiving the Moderna vaccine. Almost half the 2,200 workers at the facility have contracted COVID-19, two fatally.

Alberta reported 1,699 new COVID-19 cases in the province and a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent.

Health officials confirmed another 1,332 variant cases and said variants now make up about 59 per cent of the province’s 18,873 active cases.

Manitoba said it was expanding its vaccine program to include all front-line police officers and firefighters, as well as teachers and other at-risk workers. People in high-risk areas would also soon be eligible for a shot.

Some police in British Columbia pushed back against proposed roadblocks by the province to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The National Police Federation, which represents front-line RCMP officers, released a statement saying it has “grave concerns” about police taking part in enforcing a COVID-19 ban on non-essential travel.

Federation president Brian Sauvé said asking police to enforce roadblocks puts greater pressure on limited resources and exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections.

B.C. reported 862 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and seven more deaths, for a total of 1,546 fatalities since the pandemic started.

A joint statement from the health minister and provincial health officer said more than 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.

Sports also felt the COVID-19 sting. The pandemic prompted the cancellation of the women’s World Hockey Championship in Nova Scotia for a second time.

The third wave of COVID-19 is also playing havoc with the Olympic preparations of Canada’s top track and field athletes who can’t travel to British Columbia to compete in a key event due to the COVID-19 situation in the province.

The pandemic has also caused widespread disruption in courtrooms. Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice ordered deferment of all but the most urgent hearings — both virtual and in-person.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A topographic (3D) perspective captured from Google Earth, to create a perspective of the approximate proposed cut block outlines on Mount Ida in relation familiar local landmarks. (Alex Inselberg image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief explains proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Dogs can understand some English

Your morning start for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Followers of CBC reporter Justin McElroy’s twitter feed responded to his criticism of Salmon Arm’s new municipal flag by offering alternative design options. (Justin McElroy/Twitter)
Salmon Arm flag design flounders on internet

‘Business card’ design prompts creative alternatives

RCMP respond to call of handgun in Silver Creek on May 8, 2021. (Black Press Media files)
Report of a handgun in Silver Creek leads police to rat issue

No arrests made after RCMP able to speak to resident

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

A property crime map for the month of March shows the hot spot for crimes is centered around the area where the Victory Church homeless shelter is located. (City Submitted)
B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute

Mayor sends letter urging premier to reconsider Eby’s use of paramountcy powers

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

The Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking member artist submissions for a summer exhibit called Enchanted: A World of Fantasy. Submissions are open until June 30, 2021. (VCAC photo)
Vernon artists’ fantasy worlds wanted for summer exhibit

Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking submissions for Enchanted: A World of Fantasy

A woman is hoping that her dog Ginger ran away from the fire that erupted in her Osoyoos home Saturday night. The home caught fire twice in two days and is totally destroyed. (Contributed)
Dog missing after saving woman from huge house fire in Osoyoos

The woman escaped the burning home, but she hopes her dog Ginger ran away to safety

The temporary skatepark will be placed between the Capital News Centre (in the parking area) and H20, pictured here (Kelowna Skateboard Association/Contributed).
Kelowna skateboarders hope to get Lower Mission park

The Kelowna Skateboard Association is helping a group of kids get a skatepark for the summer

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Most Read