The Canadian Armed Forces will deploy three medical assistance teams to health-care facilities in Ontario, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area, according to a senior defense source with knowledge of the file.
Exact destinations are yet to be determined, but the first flight will be departing from Newfoundland to Ontario Tuesday. Teams will consist of approximately 10 personnel each. The CAF will also begin flying in civilian medical staff offered by other provinces, CBC News has learned.
The move comes after Ontario has made a formal request to the Canadian Armed Forces for help in dealing with a surge in critical care cases associated with COVID-19, just days after it rebuffed an offer by the federal government to send in extra personnel.
In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the province has “made a request for the assistance of those identified resources, many of whom reside, for example, within the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Red Cross organizations.”
“In addition to health human resources, we are requesting logistical and operational support as we seek to augment our response to COVID-19,” the statement from Jones’s press secretary Stephen Warner said.
Speaking to reporters, Jones said the request, made Friday, did not request a specific number of personnel.
“What we are looking for is very specialized nurses that can help out in our intensive care unit beds and medical personnel that can assist our hospitals that are seeing disturbing rises in cases of COVID-19,” she said.
Sunnybrook puts first patient in field hospital
Meanwhile, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is, for the first time, putting patients in its field hospital. The centre reported its first patient Monday. A total of 10 beds have been made available there so far to help ease pressures in acute care hospitals.
Ontario also reported a third case of a rare blood clotting condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), this time in a man in his 70s currently in hospital after receiving the CoviShield vaccine, a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The news comes as Ontario reported another 3,510 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while the number of patients with the illness who need a ventilator to breathe topped 600.
According to the Ministry of Health, 877 people with COVID-19 are being treated in intensive care units across the province, twice as many as there were at the beginning of April.
Critical Care Services Ontario, a government agency that compiles daily a report for hospitals and health organizations, said that 59 patients were admitted to ICUs yesterday alone. Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said that a total of 1,415 COVID patients have been sent to ICUs this month so far.
Of those in intensive care, 605 patients are on a ventilator — nearly double the number seen at the peak of the second wave in January.
Public health units also recorded the deaths of 24 more people with the disease, pushing the official toll to 7,935. The seven-day average of deaths has climbed to a third-wave high of 28.6.
Ford again votes no on paid sick days bill
Among those Ontarians who recently died with COVID is a 13-year-old girl from Brampton.
In a statement, Premier Doug Ford called Emily Victoria Viegas’s death a “devastating reminder of what this virus can do.
“I’m sending my deepest condolences to everyone who is suffering from the terrible loss of this young life,” he said. Ford remains in isolation after being exposed to a staffer who tested positive for COVID-19.
Monday marked the 25th time that the Ford government voted no to paid sick days in 2021 alone, the Opposition New Democratic Party pointed out.
The latest bill was put forward by Liberal MPP Michael Couteau, though previous motions by the NDP were voted down several times as well.
“It’s horrifying to think of how many people have gotten sick, and how many lives have been lost, because the Ford government didn’t want to spend the money to let workers stay home when they’re sick,” said London West MPP Peggy Sattler, who tabled the Stay Home if You Are Sick Act.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, noted in an interview with CBC News Network that 27 people with COVID — many of them under the age of 60 — have died suddenly at home throughout April.
The new cases in today’s update include:
- 1,015 in Toronto
- 909 in Peel Region
- 391 in York Region
- 244 in Durham Region
- 206 in Ottawa
- 143 in Halton Region
Notably, labs completed just 33,822 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, the fewest in more than a month. They reported a provincewide positivity rate of 10.9 per cent, a new high for Ontario, though it is not unexpected given the relatively low testing level.
The seven-day average of daily cases dropped to 3,917, the first time it has fallen below the 4,000 mark in nearly two weeks. The measure has been slowly but steadily declining since April 17.
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