Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging people not to travel as Canada’s two largest provinces reported a decrease in hospitalizations after weeks of surging COVID-19 numbers.
Trudeau says it’s time to “kill the second wave of the virus.”
The government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as well as other options that would make it harder for people to return.
Monday marks a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau says it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious.
“We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” Trudeau said Friday.
“We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.”
He said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March.
Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That’s about 80 per cent of the available supply.
COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions.
Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care.
Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The provincewide test positivity rate dropped to 3.3 per cent, the lowest since December. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital, a decrease of 21 from the previous day.
COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area. The units would add an additional 200 hospital beds and help free up space for people who need intensive care.
Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks.
Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426.
There have been 731,450 confirmed cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average is 6,079.