Ontario’s top doctor revealed some good news about the COVID-19 vaccines being administered across the province.
In a press conference on Thursday, chief medical officer Dr. David Williams says the vaccine has proven to be very safe with the province reporting 150,000 doses of the vaccine has been administered so far.
Nearly 120,000 doses were administered between Dec. 13 and Jan. 9 and there were 21 reports of side effects from that same period. All side effects reported were deemed to be mild.
On Wednesday, Ontario revealed plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in all nursing homes and high-risk retirement homes by Feb. 15. The province will then begin mass delivery to select groups of people in April.
That’s the good news, Williams also put pressure on residents to adhere to the new stay-at-home order and expressed concern with the new COVID variant recently found in the province.
Ontario is now reporting 14 cases of the new COVID variant that was first discovered in the U.K. The variant takes much less contact time to transmit and the fear is it will accelerate the spread in the province. Williams says the variant has a 45 per cent higher rate of transmission than the current strain.
“With the U.K. variant at our doorstep it could really explode even further,” said Williams. “A face to face chat with someone with no mask, standing two feet away from them and laughing and talking for about five minutes, you’ve transmitted it.”
There are ongoing issues in relation to people’s behaviour and Williams continues to emphasize the importance of staying home. He says people need to take the virus seriously and is stressing that community transmission is way too high.
“Why? Because people are continually not adhering and taking those precautions,” said Williams.
A stay-at-home order is now in effect for the province and residents are required to stay home except for essential outings, such as accessing health care, shopping for groceries, or outdoor exercise.
Hospitalizations from the virus remain an ongoing issue and there continues to be significant outbreaks throughout long-term care facilities and some workplaces. Williams says curbing the spread will provide crucial relief for the health care system and long-term care.
“Getting those numbers down, that means the hospitalizations drop, that means the ICU admissions drop, that means the hospitals open up again.”
Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner of Ontario, says he thinks about residents in the hospital and intensive care.
“I also think about the families and friends who can’t attend the hospital,” said Huyer. “They can’t even be with their sick loved ones because of the limitations of COVID.”
Williams said since Monday’s provincial numbers, Ontario is reporting another 9,190 cases of COVID-19 and an additional 185 deaths. There are currently 388 people in the ICU because of the virus.
Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and 62 deaths.