COVID-19: Ontario sees 807 new cases; Ottawa hits vaccination milestone; Poll finds 8 in 10 Canadians favour vaccine passports

Author of the article:

Aedan Helmer

FILE: Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
FILE: Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. Photo by Adrian Wyld /The Canadian Press

Canada’s chief public health officers issued a dire forecast Friday with updated modelling data showing daily case rates and hospitalizations could reach levels “not seen before in this pandemic” if restrictions continue to be lifted and vaccination rates remain slow while the Delta-driven fourth wave accelerates.

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Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo warned that if the COVID-19 trajectory remains on its current course, Canada could expect to see more than 15,000 new cases per day by October.

Daily case rates across Canada have increased sharply to an average of nearly 3,500 cases per day. Tam’s last update came in the summer, when that rate was 640 average daily cases.

Meanwhile, hospital rates have more than doubled in that time to an average 1,230 patients, with 443 in ICU daily. There are an average of 13 related deaths each day in Canada.

Tam said 53 million vaccine doses have been administered Canada-wide, but urged those Canadians aged 18 to 39 to get vaccinated “as fast as possible.”

Tam said the window of opportunity is closing to make an impact on transmission rates, with the Delta-driven fourth wave surging across the country.

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“Updated modelling shows the urgent need to get more 18-39 year olds vaccinated and speed up the overall rate of vaccination to reduce the impact of the Delta-driven resurgence,” Njoo said.

Officials are hoping to see all eligible age groups reach the 80 per cent vaccination threshold, ideally by the end of the long weekend, though Tam acknowledged that will be a “tall order” for the 18 to 39 set.

That age group represents a “gap” in vaccine uptake across Canada, with just 63 per cent of young adults aged 18 to 29 fully vaccinated, and 68 per cent of those aged 30 to 39 fully vaccinated.

“I would love that to be done by Labour Day,” Tam said.

“But because of how fast the Delta-driven cases are escalating, particularly in the western part of the country, the windows of opportunity to make that impact is narrowing … the moment you get people back indoors we will see accelerations. We’ve got not very much time.”

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The Canadian average is 84 per cent eligible residents with one dose, and 77 per cent with both doses. Ontario’s rates are the same as the Canadian averages in both categories, which lags behind Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, but ahead of the western provinces.

FILE: A healthcare worker takes a nasal swab.
FILE: A healthcare worker takes a nasal swab. Photo by JOHANNA GERON /REUTERS

Latest COVID-19 news in Ontario

Ontario reported 807 new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday and six deaths.

Two of those deaths occurred more than two months ago and were added to the database Friday in a “data cleaning,” according to Public Health Ontario.

Of the 807 new cases in the province, 628 involved unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people, while 179 were in fully vaccinated people.

There are 326 patients in Ontario hospitals (292 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, 34 are fully vaccinated) and there are another 169 in intensive care units (157 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, 12 are fully vaccinated).

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Capital-area regions are also reporting increasing daily case counts after enjoying weeks of declining numbers.

The Eastern Ontario public health unit reported six new infections Friday (after 24 new cases were identified in that area Thursday), there were six in the Hastings region, four in Kingston and two in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. There were no new cases in Renfrew City and County health.

Toronto reported 175 new cases, there were 136 in Peel, 85 in York, 72 in Windsor and 50 in Durham.

There have now been 567,878 total cases in Ontario and 9,536 deaths.

Another 738 cases were resolved in the past 24 hours and of Ontario’s total case count, 552,248 people have now recovered.

Officials are also tracking the spread of variants in the province, with steady increases to the daily total of confirmed cases of the Delta variant.

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There have been 11,319 confirmed cases involving the highly transmissible Delta strain, including 451 newly confirmed cases on Thursday and another 325 on Friday.

There have been 146,428 cases of the Alpha variant, but only three cases identified in the past 24 hours.

There was a significant boost to Ontario’s vaccination efforts, meanwhile, as 43,855 vaccine doses were administered Thursday on the heels of the announcement that the province will mandate a vaccine passport for non-essential businesses. That is about 10,000 more doses than Ontario had been averaging through August.

Of those vaccinations, 21,284 were first doses and 22,571 were second doses.

There have been 20,871,664 total vaccine doses administered in the province, with 10,006,367 eligible residents now fully vaccinated.

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Latest COVID-19 news from Ottawa

Ottawa has hit another vaccination milestone with 80 per cent of eligible (12-plus) residents now fully vaccinated.

“I am so proud that we have one of the highest vaccination rates among the largest cities in Canada,” Mayor Jim Watson tweeted Friday morning. “Thank you for doing your part, Ottawa!”

Ottawa Public Health reported 49 new infections and no new deaths Friday. There have been 28,461 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 593 related deaths.

Ottawa’s active case count has grown to 268 cases, with another two hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

There are now 10 patients in local hospital and one remains in ICU.

There have been 230 cases over the past seven days, for a weekly rate of 21.8 cases per 100,000 population.

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A total of 27,600 people have recovered.

Ottawa conducted 662 tests Thursday with a positivity of 1.06 per cent, though that rate has fluctuated over the past several weeks.

The previous day’s positivity rate was 2.92 per cent, and the weekly average in Ottawa is 2.2 per cent. That is up from last week’s average 1.9 per cent.

The virus reproduction rate, R(t), which measures the number of secondary cases generated by a single infection, rose slightly to 1.06. Any value above 1.0 indicates the virus is spreading in the community.

There have been 1,548,722 vaccine doses administered in the city, with 793,822 people having received first doses (86 per cent of the eligible population) and 734,170 people (80 per cent) having received both doses.

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Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec reported 750 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest one-day case count in more than three months.

In addition, two new deaths were reported.

There were nine new hospitalizations, for a total of 147, while ICU cases increased by seven, to 49.

A total of 26,959 additional vaccine doses were administered over the previous 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 391,363 cases and 11,291 deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 374,807 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.

A worker scans a QR code from client at Cora restaurant in downtown Montreal.
A worker scans a QR code from client at Cora restaurant in downtown Montreal. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Postmedia

Latest COVID-19 news nationally

A new poll suggests eight out of 10 Canadians were in favour of a COVID-19 vaccine passport in the days leading up to this week’s news that Ontario would be implementing a passport type system and the rollout of a certificate system in Quebec.

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The poll also suggests Canadians were largely split on whether the reopening of in-person learning at elementary and secondary schools changed their level of concern over the Delta variant.

The latest Leger poll found 56 per cent of Canadian respondents said they “strongly support” provincial vaccine passports for indoor places including bars, restaurants, gyms, concert halls and festivals when asked last week, while another 25 per cent said they “somewhat support” the measure.

Seven per cent were somewhat opposed and 13 per cent were strongly opposed.

The poll was conducted Aug. 27 to 29, before Ontario announced its vaccine certificate system that will take effect Sept. 22. Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba recently announced similar measures.

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The online poll collected responses from 1,544 Canadians over the age of 18. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Respondents from Atlantic Canada and British Columbia were most in favour of a vaccine passport at 85 and 84 per cent total support, respectively. Those from Manitoba and Saskatchewan were most opposed, with 26 per cent saying they either strongly or somewhat opposed the measure, while 20 per cent of Alberta participants strongly opposed.

Support was highest among respondents aged 55 and older at 86 per cent, and lowest among those 35 to 54 years old at 75 per cent.

The poll, which also surveyed 1,004 Americans, found 59 per cent support for a vaccine passport among U.S. participants, and 41 per cent opposition.

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Meanwhile, 44 per cent of Canadian respondents said plans to reopen schools made them more worried about catching the Delta variant, while seven per cent felt less worried. Another 47 per cent said reopening schools did not change their feelings on catching the COVID-19 variant.

Sixty per cent of respondents said classes should shift to virtual platforms if there was a significant increase in COVID-19 infections within their communities, and 40 per cent said in-person classes should continue as planned.

Half of Canadians surveyed said masks should be worn at all times on high school premises, and 12 per cent said they should only be worn by students who don’t have proof of vaccination.

More than three-quarters of Canadian respondents — 78 per cent — said governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions “right now,” compared to 16 per cent who favoured removing all pandemic measures at the time of the survey.

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Thirty-eight per cent of those asked said they believed the worst of the COVID-19 crisis had passed for Canada, while 26 per cent said the worst was yet to come.

Despite these poll indicators, three prominent medical groups are speaking out against harassment they say doctors have faced from anti-vaccine protesters, including demonstrations set up outside hospitals this week to oppose rules compelling people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The groups say in some cases, protesters blocked access to ambulances and other medical services.

The CMA and OMA say doctors have been bullied and in some cases attacked by those who disagree with vaccine mandates.

“This is wrong and unacceptable — full stop,” the CMA and OMA said in a joint statement Friday.

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Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a family doctor who’s made a name for herself sharing data about the pandemic online, said the misinformation she suspects has led to anti-vaccine sentiment is disheartening.

“I hope that people understand that regardless of protests, that medical providers will still be there to care for them if they do become sick,” she said. “I already have unvaccinated patients — including those who are young and healthy — severely sick and hospitalized due to COVID-19.”

More On This Topic

  1. Ottawa Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vera Etches confirmed Thursday that, like the rest of Ontario, Ottawa was in a fourth wave of the pandemic, driven by the Delta variant.

    Health officials advise cautious September, predicting substantial fourth wave of COVID-19

  2. A staff member flashes a QR code of a suporter's Covid-19 health pass before the start of the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais Football Club and RC Lens at The Roazhon Park Stadium in Rennes, northwestern France on August 8, 2021.

    Vaccine passports: Comparing Ontario vs. Quebec

-With files from The Canadian Press

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