Ontario is on the verge of running out of COVID-19 vaccine doses if no new shipments arrive before the end of next week, Premier Doug Ford said during an announcement on Friday morning.
“We’re quickly running out,” he said, adding that Toronto’s University Hospital Network and York Region’s Southlake Regional Healthcare expect to run out by the end of Friday. “All of Ontario will be out of Pfizer vaccines by the end of next week.”
The news came one day after the province reported a record-high 3,519 new COVID-19 cases and announced most schools in Ontario will remain closed for in-person classes until Jan. 25. In Quebec, where the seven-day-average infection rate per 100,000 people is 29.9 compared to Ontario’s 25.5, an 8 p.m. curfew will take effect on Jan. 9.
Ford did not announce any new public health restrictions for Ontario, but said that, as the province waits for additional doses from the federal government, Ontarians will need to continue to “hunker down” and stay home. If they don’t, he threatened, Ontario is in for a “wake up call.”
“If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire,” he said. “The shutdown won’t end at the end of January and we will have to look at more extreme measures.”
On Dec. 31, Ontario’s finance minister, Rod Phillips, resigned after it came to light he had vacationed in St. Barts over the holidays amid pleas from the federal and provincial governments for Ontarians to avoid non-essential travel of any kind.
When asked by a reporter during the Friday media event whether Ford believed his government had lost credibility over the scandal, he said the matter had been resolved and reminded Ontarians to stay home.
The premier was joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe.
“Today’s numbers are, to be frank, scary,” Yaffe said. “It’s going the wrong way.”
Ontario has reported record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital, in ICU beds and on ventilators, and infection rates in children have risen considerably since the middle of December, she said. Additionally, the province has detected six cases of the new U.K. variant.
“There’s probably more that we don’t know about,” she said.