ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is sending nine health-care workers to Ontario on Tuesday to help the province deal with a third wave of COVID-19 that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
Premier Andrew Furey says the health-care professionals — one of whom is his wife — include three doctors, a nurse practitioner and five critical care nurses.
"This is a Canadian problem," the premier told reporters Monday in St. John's. "COVID knows no boundaries. If we were in a scenario like (Ontario's), I would hope that the rest of the country would come to our assistance as well."
The premier's wife, Dr. Allison Furey, works in pediatric emergency care and has experience with Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 assessment unit.
The nine health professionals are expected to be deployed to downtown Toronto.
"They'll be briefed there and get straight to work," Furey said, adding that the volunteers will be working with the University Health Network.
On the weekend, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province's intensive care capacity "has been stretched to its limits by the U.K. variant" of the virus that causes COVID-19.
On Monday, Furey said more health-care workers will be sent to Ontario in the weeks ahead. The first group of nine will stay in Ontario for up to three weeks, and the second group will stay between 10 days and two weeks.
"There will be another stream of extra support, a surge capacity to help all those hard-working medical professionals who have been working so hard in Ontario," he said.
Ontario reported 3,510 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, and 24 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Newfoundland and Labrador, by contrast, has just 28 active cases after reporting four new cases Monday, all related to travel within Canada. It has one hospitalized COVID-19 patient.
Ontario's Health Department reported there were 2,271 people in hospital with COVID-19 on the weekend, but that number was expected to rise as some hospitals did not provide new numbers. There were 877 people in intensive care, and 605 them were using ventilators to breathe.
Meanwhile, Toronto announced Monday that four businesses would be shut down and eight others would be partially closed under new rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The city's top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said the affected workplaces would be publicly identified once they have been properly notified.
The health-care professionals headed to Ontario from Newfoundland and Labrador were drawn from areas of Newfoundland and Labrador where there are adequate staffing levels, Furey said. The federal government is covering all of the costs, he added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021.
The Canadian Press