COVID-19 in Canada, one year later: Nurses, teachers call for more action as Ontario finally reports fewer than 2,000 cases

Elisabetta Bianchini
·4-min read

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Ontario reported fewer than 2,000 COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 1,958 new confirmed cases. This includes 727 new cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region.

The province confirmed 43 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 5,846. There are currently 1,398 people in Ontario hospitals, including 397 in ICUs.

A total of 256 long-term care homes in the province are reporting an outbreak, including 1,266 active resident cases and 1,200 active staff cases.

One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

It’s been a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Canada from an individual who returned to Toronto from Wuhan, China. The Ontario government released a statement looking back at life in the province since that date.

“A year ago today, we were presented with one of the most difficult challenges in our history with the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Ontario,” a statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Time and again, the people of Ontario faced extraordinary challenges this past year - and time and again, they stepped up, did their part, and showed the true Ontario spirit. Thank you to everyone who made incredible sacrifices and put in countless hours to keep us safe and keep the province running smoothly.”

RELATED: A timeline of COVID-19 in Canada for the last year

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) continues to stress that the vaccine rollout needs to get “back on track,” including securing a consistent supply and protecting individuals who are at high risk of more severe illness. The CMA has also identified that efforts on COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation need to be strengthened, and provincial and federal governments need to collaborate on “delivering a clear, longer-range plan.”

“The virus continues to test us,” a statement from Dr. Ann Collins, president of the Canadian Medical Association reads. “On average, our hospitals are dealing with almost 4,800 COVID-19 patients and we are seeing 141 daily deaths. We are in the midst of a national tragedy.”

Calls for more action in Ontario

A year after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, the Ontario Nurses’ Association wrote an open letter to Ford, which states that on Nov. 26, 2020 the premier was copied on an email to Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, requesting precautions for airborne transmission of COVID-19.

This came after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized that COVID-19 can be spread by airborne transmission, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) including transmission through aerosols in its guidance.

“This is a significant shift and has implications for health-care worker protections, since only N95 respirators, at a minimum, or other superior respirators, are designed to protect the wearer against aerosol-transmitted diseases. Surgical masks do not protect against this mode of transmission,” the open letter reads.

“The government must face the realities of health-care workers and the perils they face. The pandemic began 10 months ago and despite persistent infection rates and consensus on aerosol transmission, the government has still failed to act.”

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) also released a statement on Twitter after Ford and Elliott’s message a year after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed, criticizing the provincial government’s plan to safely operate schools.

“A year later there is no real plan for schools. And enhanced safety measures are still lacking,” the tweet reads.

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