Hospitals across much of Ontario begin cutting back elective surgeries amid strain of COVID-19

The latest:

Hospitals across much of Ontario will start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures Monday to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday that could increase intensive-care unit capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.

The province on Monday reported having 1,646 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 619 patients in intensive care units. Health officials also reported 4,401 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths.

Hospitals in northern Ontario are exempt from cancelling non-urgent procedures, but a memo from Ontario Health on Thursday night said they should prepare to ramp down quickly in the near future.

The memo also asked hospitals to identify staff who may be redeployed to other sites if necessary.

Premier Doug Ford, along with his health and education ministers and the province’s top doctor, are set to make an announcement later Monday.

Meanwhile, more than 700 pharmacies are joining Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the province races to slow the spread of the virus. Government officials say the move will rapidly expand availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 55 and over this week.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:15 a.m. ET


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

WATCH | Many educators still waiting for access to COVID-19 vaccine:

Educators are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in several provinces, but many are still waiting for access to the shots. 2:01

As of 10:10 a.m. ET, Canada had reported 1,064,564 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 75,387 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,330.

Across Atlantic Canada, health officials reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, including:

  • Nine new cases in the Edmundston area of New Brunswick, which entered a lockdown on Sunday.
  • Five new cases in Nova Scotia, which brought the number of active cases in the province to 40.
  • One new case in Newfoundland and Labrador, putting the number of active cases in the province at 10.

Prince Edward Island, which did not report any new cases on Sunday, is as of Monday allowing people aged 55 and up to get the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine at 12 pharmacies on the island.

In Central Canada, Quebec health officials on Sunday reported 1,535 new cases and five new deaths. Hospitalizations in the province, as reported on a provincial dashboard, stood at 608, with 139 people in intensive care.  The province, which has moved up its curfew in Montreal and Laval, on Sunday night saw hundreds of protesters gather in Old Montreal.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 112 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while neighbouring Saskatchewan reported 321 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death.

Health officials in Alberta, meanwhile, reported 1,183 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The province’s chief medical health officer said 50.5 per cent of the active cases in the province are variants of concern.

In British Columbia, health officials have decided that all adults who live or work in Whistler are eligible as of Monday for a COVID-19 vaccine as the region struggles with increasing cases.

Across the North, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or Yukon.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 10:10 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

Women take a selfie with their drinks on Monday at The Fox on the Hill pub after its reopening as coronavirus restrictions ease in London. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

As of early Monday morning, more than 136.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking site run by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 2.9 million.

In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to “behave responsibly” as shops, gyms, hairdressers, restaurant patios and beer gardens reopen after months of lockdown. Monday sees the easing of restrictions that have been in place in England since early January to suppress a surge in coronavirus infections linked to a more transmissible new variant of the virus.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are following their own, broadly similar plans to ease lockdown. Britain has had Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths.

Meanwhile, in France, more than 10 million people have received a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the hard-hit Philippine capital and four nearby provinces have been placed under a lighter coronavirus lockdown to avoid further damage to an already battered economy despite a continuing surge in infections and deaths. The Philippines has long been a Southeast Asian coronavirus hot spot, with about 865,000 confirmed infections and nearly 15,000 deaths.

“Our emerging strategy is to increase our bed capacities instead of closing the economy,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque  who spoke in a televised news briefing from a Manila hospital after contracting COVID-19 like many cabinet members.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees flocked to take a holy bath in India’s Ganges river, even as the nation racked up the world’s highest tally of new daily coronavirus infections.

Thai workers prepare a field hospital for COVID-19 patients in Bangkok on Monday. Thailand’s Health Ministry warned Sunday that restrictions may need to be tightened to slow the spread of a fresh coronavirus wave as the country hit a daily record for new cases. (Somchai Chanjirakitti/The Associated Press)

In the Middle East, Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday.

In the Americas, the United States had administered 187,047,131 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and distributed 237,796,105 doses as of Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Venezuela has secured the funds to fully pay for coronavirus vaccines via the COVAX system, President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday, a day after a surprise announcement that the country had paid more than half the amount due.

In Africa, Tunisia approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and will soon receive 1.5 million doses of the vaccine under an African Union plan.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET


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