COVID-19 in Canada: 'If you catch COVID in the coming days...a vaccine won’t help you,' PM warns; Ontario hasn't 'lost control', deputy premier urges

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.

‘There’s nothing normal about a pandemic,”B.C. premier says

Over the weekend, B.C. implemented new restrictions in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, which impose limits on social gatherings. These restrictions will be in place until Nov. 23 and 12:00 p.m. local time.

“No one should be under any illusion, based on what’s happen in British Columbia, in Canada, in North America and around the world, that we’re going to be out of this anytime soon,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said at a press conference on Monday. “We’re not designing plans to make life uncomfortable for people, we’re designing plans to make it as comfortable as we possibly can. “

“There’s nothing normal about a pandemic, there’s nothing normal about the challenge that we’re facing.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, announced Monday that the province reported 998 COVID-19 cases over two periods, from Saturday to Monday.

“What we need to to do now is to break those chains of transmission,” Dr. Henry said. “In the next week and two weeks, we will start seeing those numbers come down, reflecting that we are no long exposing large numbers of people.”

She indicated that recent cases have been linked to social gatherings in people’s homes, workplaces, indoor group physical activities and people travelling around the province.

“This latest action in our COVID-19 response is about putting the break on the virus,” Dr. Henry said. “It is a short-term pause on non-essential activities and travel to ensure that our essential activities like school and work and healthcare can safely continue.”

Ontario premier wants to introduce COVID-19 testing at airports, instead of 14-day quarantine

At a press conference on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he wants to see the province move to COVID-19 testing at airports versus the 14-day quarantine regulations for travellers.

“I want to action this as soon as possible,” Ford said. “Rather than isolating for 14 days, let’s get them tested immediately when they come off the plane and test them again five or six days later.”

The premier went on to say he “needs” the federal government’s help on this, identifying Toronto and Ottawa airports, in particular, at places where he wants to introduce a testing protocol.

‘There’s nothing like a virus to keep one humble’

Although the daily COVID-19 case count continues to rise in the province, Ford stressed “the numbers are going up around the world.”

“I’d think differently if it was just Ontario,” he said.

The premier said any existing and future measures undertaken by the provincial government will be done as a way to strike a “happy balance” between public health, economic interests and other consequences related to restrictions.

“I think it would be a worse disaster if we just shut everything down,” Ford said. “I’m no medical expert but I’ll tell you one thing, you lose your business, you lose your house, where do you measure mental health?”

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer, said the recent trend in cases in “concerning” and stressed that people across the province need to follow the public health rules in place, even though they may be experiencing “COVID fatigue.”

“We have to be very concerted on our efforts to contain this personally, family, household and in our circles that are friends...and to challenge each other to say, we really need to be more careful on this,” Dr. Williams said on Monday. “Let’s really be careful in the next four to six weeks especially, and eight weeks, to see if we can drive these numbers back down.”

“There’s nothing like a virus to keep one humble in these situations. There’s no recipe book and no one’s got the prefect formula, we continue to be driven by the evidence.”

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, stressed that although the highest number of COVID-19 cases are in regions like Toronto, Peel, York, Ottawa and Hamilton, a number of northern areas, which have been largely spared in this pandemic, are starting to see an increase in cases as well. This includes Sudbury, which saw 14 cases on Saturday, 12 new cases on Sunday and eight more on Monday.

Dr. Yaffe and Dr. Williams also spoke about misinformation that people in the province may be believing, especially when other health units and countries around the world implement different strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I think part of it is, they don’t see the risk for themselves or their families,” Dr. Yaffe said. “You don’t see the virus, it’s not like another big emergency like an earthquake or a flood or something where you actually see the results.”

“It’s very hard to see the affect and what you see is the impact on your life.”

Alberta’s top doctor says cases need to be below 100 a day in larger cities

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, warned of severe consequences in the province if it is not able to reduce COVID-19 transmission, as Alberta reports 644 new cases on Monday, with 192 people in hospitals and 39 in intensive care.

“We have not yet turned the corner that we must turn,” Dr. Hinshaw said. “Cases continue to rise and if we do not bend the curve back soon, we may see further surgeries being postponed or other impacts on health services.”

“The rate of increase and rising hospitalizations are extremely concerning to me...This is a critical juncture and we need to get our cases down to below 100 new cases per day in our big cities.”

Alberta's chief medical officer of health urged people in the province to celebrate Remembrance Day virtually this year and to consider COVID-19 when planning Diwali celebrations.

“If you are in Edmonton or Calgary, please do not plan to host anyone at your home who does not live with you, and please do not attend a gathering at a home where you do not live,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

“After eight months, I know that some people have let their guard down, often because they have not personally contracted the virus and they don’t know anyone who has either...but COVID-19 does not play favourites.”

Trudeau: ‘If you catch COVID in the coming days and weeks, a vaccine won’t help you or your family’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the latest information on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate for COVID-19, saying that the Canadian government hope to see a viable vaccine early next year, most likely in the first three months of the year.

“Between now and then, it’s really, really important that we double down on our efforts,” Trudeau stressed at a press conference on Monday. “We need to make sure we are controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months so that when vaccines get here, we will be able to act quickly to protect all Canadians.”

“If you catch COVID in the coming days and weeks, a vaccine won’t help you or your family. We see the light at the end of the tunnel,...we need to stay strong and hang in there a few more months, maybe more than that.”

This particular vaccine candidate must remain at -70 C to keep stable so the logistics for distribution could come with difficulties.

“The logistical distribution of this vaccine candidate will require some very carefully cooperation with provinces and with supply chains in order to be able to get it out to Canadians on a priority basis,” the prime minister said. “Compared to potential later vaccines that will be much more stable at room temperature, the logistics on this first vaccine are likely to be more complex and slightly more limiting in terms of where we can get this candidate out to.”

Ontario continues to see daily cases over 1,000, adds resources in Peel Region

The Ontario government announced that it will be providing additional public health supports for the Peel Region. This comes as the province reported 1,242 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 483 new cases in Toronto, 279 in Peel, 107 in York Region, 74 in Ottawa and 57 in Hamilton.

“We are working across government and alongside our partners in health care and public health to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Peel Region,” Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in a statement. “Our government is focusing public health resources where they are needed the most to protect the individuals, families and workers in Peel Region.”

The province is establishing three new community-based testing centres in Brampton by Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Snelgrove Community Centre, Gore Meadows Community Centre and Greenbriar Community Centre;

There will be more mobile testing sites, including at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin Mobile Health Clinic in Brampton, and opening limited walk-in availability at assessment centres for those who can't book an appointment in advance.

The provincial government will operate up to seven pharmacies or specimen collection centres, in partnership with LifeLabs, Dynacare and Alpha, over the next two weeks.

The Peel area will also receive up to 70 additional case and contact management staff and 10 public health units across the province with lower case counts are assisting Peel Region with case investigation.

To support hospital capacity, the Ontario government is investing $42 million for up to 234 new beds at three hospitals and their alternate health facilities in Peel Region, including the William Osler Health System, Trillium Health Partners and Headwaters Healthcare.

As daily case number continue to exceed 1,100 for multiple days in the Ontario, Elliott said at a press conference on Monday morning that the province has not “lost control” and there is a “comprehensive plan” to deal with the rise cases.

In terms of Toronto, which is expected to be introduced into the new colour-coded framework the province revealed last week this coming weekend, Elliott said easing any restrictions will be done in consultation with the local medial officer of health and it is also dependent on the case numbers in the city throughout the week.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health stressed that the framework “does not cover all details” but it was clear that health experts from the COVID-19 hotspots in the province believed the modified Stage 2 restrictions didn’t have the full effects previously anticipated and they wanted stronger measures related to “people’s personal behaviour, their family’s behaviours, their household behaviour.”

“There’s a lot more to be put ensure that we have a really good response by the public, which is so critical to bring this down to control,” Dr. Williams said. “If everyone did what they’re supposed to do all the time, we cold have Peel back down into a yellow, maybe a green zone.”

‘Absolutely wonderful news’ about Pfizer’s vaccine candidate

Following the news that Pfizer’s latest data suggests the company’s vaccine candidate may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, Elliott said this is “absolutely wonderful news” and the province is continuing to plan for arrangements around distribution of any effective vaccine in a way that is “fair and equitable.”

Dr. Williams added that everyone’s immune system is “slightly different” and the province will wait for more information from any vaccine manufacturer on vaccine response, including in different age groups.

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