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Covid-19 variants likely replaced original virus in many parts of Canada, health officials say


“It’s not the news we wanted, but hospitalizations are increasing, intensive care beds are filling, variants are spreading and even people who had convinced themselves they didn’t need to worry. are getting sick, “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference Tuesday, adding that this was a” very serious “third wave of the pandemic.

Admissions to intensive care units have increased 18% in the last week alone, and the new variants are putting “great pressure” on hospital capacity, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

“With increasing infection rates, we are seeing more young adults with Covid-19 being treated in hospital,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer in Canada. She added that more than 15,000 cases of variants have been detected so far, the vast majority of which is variant B.1.1.7 first detected in the UK.

In many provinces that are currently experiencing a third wave, public health officials are reporting that younger patients are critically ill with Covid-19, and many of those cases have tested positive for worrisome variants, according to Tam.

“A lot of them deteriorate pretty quickly and need to be admitted to the ICU fairly immediately, and then they spend some time staying in the ICU, which means there’s an impact on capacity as well.” , Tam said.

While hospitalizations have not increased dramatically, more admitted patients now need intensive care as the variants make them more seriously ill, she said.

In Toronto, public health officials have ordered all elementary and secondary schools to stop in-person learning and switch to distance learning, starting Wednesday, as they attempt to “reverse the wave of infection the province is currently facing, ”said Toronto Public Health.

Ontario, whose capital is Toronto, is debating new, more restrictive measures, including a stay-at-home order, as its intensive care capacity grows strained.

The order will be in effect April 7-18, based on guidelines released Tuesday, and may be extended.

“The current circumstances demand that tough decisions be made locally to protect all members of our school communities, including students, teachers and staff,” said Toronto Public Health.

British Columbia has decided to close the Whistler Ski Resort and further restrict gatherings in the province, which now also faces an outbreak of the virus among NHL hockey players with the Vancouver Canucks.

Covid-19 variants likely replaced original virus in many parts of Canada, health officials say
The province of Alberta has also confirmed that it is dealing with new clusters of cases involving the P.1 variant.

This week, Canada has passed one million cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Tam called this a “stark reminder” of everything Canadians have gone through.

Although the B.1.1.7 variant has now likely become the dominant variant in Canada, Tam said his team is also closely monitoring a large outbreak of the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil and now on the rise. in some western Canada. provinces.

On Monday, British Columbia’s health minister said the number of variant P.1 cases in his province nearly doubled over Easter weekend.

“The more transmissive variants of Covid-19 will eventually gain the upper hand,” Adrian Dix said in an update on Monday.

CNN’s Elizabeth Stuart and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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