A devastating outbreak linked to the UK Covid-19 variant at a care home in Canada’s Toronto city has now infected more than 300 individuals, heightening fears of community spread, according to officials.
All but one of the home’s 128 residents have been sickened with the virus, along with 86 staff members, Xinhua news agency reported.
The variant spreading in Ontario is a “significant threat” to controlling the pandemic, but maintaining existing public health interventions will likely help encourage a downward trend in cases, according to an updated report by the provincial government’s Covid-19 advisory table released on Thursday.
The report showed that cases and positivity are down in much of the province, that testing volumes are slightly down too.
Covid-19 cases are expected to drop between 1,000-2,000 by the end of February, but that could change as the new variant of concern takes hold.
On Thursday, Canada reported 3,869 new cases and 104 deaths, which increased the overall infection tally and fatalities in the country to 765,094 and 19,645, respectively.
Ontario reported 2,093 new cases on Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 262,463.
Currently, the province has 1,338 patients in hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 358 are in the ICU and 276 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
The province’s seven-day average for the number of new infections recorded now is 2,128, down from the 2,751 a week earlier.
Out of 56 deaths, 31 involved a resident of a long-term care home. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ontario has recorded 6,014 deaths.
More than 1,400 of those deaths were reported since the beginning of January.
It is reported that at least 317,240 vaccine shots have been administered in the province which has a population of 14.7 million.
Quebec, another populous province with a population of 8.7 million, reported 1,368 new cases and 39 deaths on Thursday, raising the total number 258,698, including 9,667 fatalities and recoveries.
The number of people in Quebec hospitals with Covid-19 fell to 1,264, with 212 people in the province’s intensive care units.
The two hard-hit provinces have imposed stricter restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 and protecting strained health-care systems since early January.
Meanwhile, Canada has fallen behind other developed nations in the number of shots administered per capita as supply disruptions derail planned vaccinations.
According to information collated by the University of Oxford-based Our World in Data, Canada now ranks 20th globally, well behind allies like the US and the UK but also middle-income countries like Poland and Serbia.
Canada was among one of the first countries in the world to authorize the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for use.
The country contends with shortages because of a plant shutdown in Belgium.
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