Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario reports 1,707 new COVID-19 cases as ICU admissions climb to 2nd-wave high

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Health officials report eight new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Health officials report eight new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick

Premier Doug Ford was noticeably absent from the province’s daily news conference on Tuesday after his office announced shortly after noon that he had an “unexpected, but non-COVID-related, non-urgent medical appointment that will prevent him from participating.”

The news conference went ahead at pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson’s warehouse with Minister of Health Christine Elliott leading along with retired general Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force, and others.

Questions about Ontario’s vaccine rollout were front and centre at Tuesday’s news conference.

Few specifics were on offer, but Elliott did say that vaccines will not be mandatory for healthcare workers. Asked if they would be required to take the vaccine, Elliott replied that the premier has made it clear that he wants vaccinations to be voluntary.

Asked who might be first in line for vaccinations, Elliott said that’s something the province is currently discussing with its taskforce, but that vulnerable populations and frontline workers are among the priorities.

As for who comprises that taskforce, Elliott said it does include a bioethicist, and that the names of the members should be able to be released in a “short while.”

Ontario reported another 1,707 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the number of patients with the illness being treated in intensive care units climbed to 193.

The new cases include a record 727 in Toronto — the most ever on a single day for the city — as well as 373 in Peel Region and 169 in York Region.

The new infections push the seven-day average of daily cases to 1,670, also a new record high.

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