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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Canadian province of Ontario strengthens, prolongs Covid lockdown |

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, has extended its lockdown and implemented stricter measures to fight Covid, closing domestic borders and barring unnecessary travel, its leader said Friday.

Representative image. Credit: Reuters photo

The province of 14 million people registered 4,812 new cases — a record high — and 25 deaths on Friday, according to health officials.

“The pace of our vaccine supply has not kept up with the spread of the new Covid variants,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters.

“We are on our heels, but if we dig in, remain steadfast, we can turn this around. We’re down, but by no means are we out,” he said.

Ford extended the lockdown now in effect by two weeks until May 19, and ordered Ontario residents to go out only to tend to their basic needs.

Police will be able to crack down on offenders by fining them Can$750 (US$600).

The provincial government is also closing non-essential construction sites, limiting outdoor gatherings to only family members and one other person, and banning outdoor sports like golf and basketball. 

It is also limiting the capacity of essential businesses, such as pharmacies or supermarkets, to 25 percent, as well as weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies to 10 people. 

Its borders with the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba will be closed to non-essential travel beginning Monday.

Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, followed suit by announcing the closure of its common border with Ontario.

“The variants have no borders. We are all working together to break this 3rd wave,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault wrote in French on Twitter.

Deputy Premiere Genevieve Guilbault, tweeted that Quebec would “ensure tight control of movement” between the two provinces.

Ontario has broken records for several days for number of new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care patients, which are overwhelming its health system. 

Without stricter measures, new cases could reach 30,000 per day by June, a scientific committee advising the Ontario government warned on Friday.

A more optimistic modeling scenario showed more than 10,000 daily cases. 

The test positivity rate in the province is 7.9 percent and exceeds 10 percent in Toronto, Canada’s largest city. 

For several days Canada has seen more Covid-19 cases per capita than the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

The country of around 37 million people has recorded more than 1.1 million cases since the start of the pandemic and some 23,500 deaths.

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