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Canada mobilises health workers to virus-hit Ontario

A nurse tends to a Covid-19 patient at the intensive care unit of Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday. (AP pic)

TORONTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that the federal government will send resources and support to Ontario, the province battling a worrying spike in Covid infections. Ottawa will mobilise health professionals from different federal departments and deploy them to Ontario, particularly the Toronto region, where “the situation is most critical”, Trudeau said in a video posted to Twitter. The government is also in discussion with multiple provinces, including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, to free up personnel and equipment resources “over the coming days”, the prime minister said.

Ottawa will cover the transport costs and coordinate the transfer of caregivers from different provinces to Ontario, he said. The federal government will also send rapid Covid-19 tests to the areas of Ontario that have been the most-affected by the pandemic. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province with 14 million people, has for the past few days been battling record coronavirus case numbers, hospitalisations and intensive care patients, all of which are threatening to overwhelm its health system.

Yesterday, the province reported 4,250 new cases, 18 new deaths and 2,107 new hospitalisations, 741 of which were in intensive care. “Canadians are watching surging cases, driven by more contagious variants in places across the country, including in our largest province and Canada’s largest city,” Trudeau said in his video message. “Things will get better.

And until they do, Ontario, Canadians, we have your back. Together, we will get through this,” Trudeau added yesterday. On Friday, Ontario announced it was tightening and extending its lockdown orders to curb the pandemic, including closing its inter-provincial borders to non-essential travel.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford lengthened 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.

The provincial government was also limiting the capacity of essential businesses, such as pharmacies or supermarkets as well as weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies.

Canada has recorded more than 1.1 million cases since the start of the pandemic and about 23,600 deaths.