A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada


Published January 20, 2022 at 5:18 pm

A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada:

— Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March. Premier Doug Ford says he’s announcing a phased reopening plan because public health indicators are starting to show signs of improvement. “We can be confident that the worst is behind us,” he said. “While we can be confident in how far we’ve come, I want to be crystal clear: we’re not out of the woods yet. The coming weeks will continue to pose real challenges, especially to our hospitals.”

— Ontario’s plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions won’t have any immediate impact on fan capacity for hockey and basketball teams operating in the province. The Ontario government has announced that some indoor venues, including movie theatres and gyms, will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity starting Jan. 31. However, large sports arenas and concert venues will be only allowed 500 people or half capacity, whichever is lower, until Feb. 21. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said capacity will be increased to 50 per cent at that time, with limits being completely lifted March 14.

— High schoolers across Ontario are lobbying their school boards and the province for a “freeze” on grades for the remainder of this Omicron-interrupted semester after some boards said final marks wouldn’t fall further than where they were at the end of last year. The students behind various petitions — which have together garnered more than 15,000 signatures supporting the call for a grade freeze— have formed a sort of unofficial network, sharing information about advocating for what they say would be a more equitable system that accounts for the complexities of the COVID-era classroom. 

— Unlike Ontario, Quebec cannot begin loosening COVID-19 restrictions because the situation in the province’s hospitals remains too fragile, Premier François Legault says. “The situation will continue to be difficult for the next few weeks. I understand that we are all tired, but lives are at stake,” Legault says. “We are currently at the limit in our hospitals.” Quebec’s Health Department reported the first drop in COVID-19 patients in the province since Dec. 16. It said that 3,411 people were in hospital with the disease — 14 fewer than the day before — after 352 patients were admitted and 366 were discharged. It said 285 people were in intensive care, unchanged from the day before. 

— Leaked government modelling indicates that Saskatchewan’s hospitalizations from COVID-19 will reach record levels by mid-February if people don’t reduce their gathering sizes. It says a best-case scenario would see more than 500 patients admitted — nearly double what the province experienced last fall during the Delta wave. Six of Saskatchewan’s largest unions representing 113,000 front-line workers are demanding more safety measures to blunt the rise of hospitalizations. 

— Nunavut’s health minister says he’s concerned too many residents are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. John Main says he wants people to encourage their friends and family members to get a shot. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says a person who died from COVID-19 earlier this week was over 70 years old and was not fully vaccinated. Government figures show 71 per cent of those five and older have had two doses of vaccine.

— Newfoundland and Labrador health officials say students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will return to in-class learning on Tuesday. Students will have to take two rapid tests before returning to school — one 72 hours before they return and the other on Tuesday morning, before classes begin. Tony Stack, chief executive officer of the province’s English school board, says there is plenty of help available from retired teachers, teaching assistants and about 1,100 substitute teachers if large numbers of teachers have to stay home.

— Nova Scotia is reporting three more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Officials say a woman in her 50s died in the Halifax area, a man in his 70s died in the province’s eastern zone and a woman in her 70s died in the northern zone. The province has reported 11 COVID-19-related deaths in the last four days. Officials are also reporting 18 new hospital admissions due to the novel coronavirus and say 12 patients are in intensive care.

— New Brunswick is reporting three more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Officials say a person in their 50s died in the Saint John region, someone in their 70s died in the Moncton area and an individual in their 80s died in the Edmundston region. They say 124 people are in hospital with the disease, including 12 in intensive care.

— Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting 249 new cases of COVID-19 along with 292 more recoveries. There are 2,471 active reported cases in the province, down 43 from Wednesday. Officials say 10 people are hospitalized with the disease, including two people in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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