COVID-19 variant ‘a concern’ say regional health officers in Canada


The head of Canada’s public health agency says variants of the COVID-19 pandemic are currently responsible for the third wave.

“Variants of concern are contributing to the current resurgence. The B117 variant is known to cause more severe illness and increase the risk of death,” says Dr. Teresa Tam.

Tam added that the B-117 variant from the UK now represents over 90 per cent of new cases in Canada.

In Ontario over 3,200 cases were reported in just 24 hours with 500 patients now in intensive care units (ICU) – these cases have prompted the government to announce stay at home orders across Ontario.

“This variant is moving hour by hour day by day so we have to move with it and be nimble and be quick,” says Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Starting Thursday April 8, for the next 30 days only essential stores will be open like grocery stores and pharmacies, big box stores will be limited to essential items only. Non-essential businesses will be eligible for government assistance and sick pay for workers is also available as the province shuts down.

In places like Alberta variant cases are making up nearly a third of all new cases.

“Our reproductive rate that shows how quickly the virus is growing spreading is higher for the variant of concern is higher then all of our cases together,” explained Dr. Deena Henshaw – Alberta’s chief medical health officer.

In Saskatchewan First Nations communities are now holding mass vaccination clinics to stop the ever increasing numbers of cases in that province.

Along with Ontario – British Columbia is also now considered a hotspot in variant cases across Canada with over 1,000 reported variant cases since April 1.

The chief medical health officer in B.C. says we must continue safe practices, social distancing and staying within our bubbles.

“Let’s ensure we don’t lose any more ground we can get thru this surge as well,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Despite being top elite athletes and being safe guarded – the variants have also crippled the Vancouver Canucks with 21 players coaches staff and their families testing positive with the P.1 Brazillian variant – essentially showing that despite your best efforts – no one is fully protected from the more transmissible variants.

Chief Don Tom who is vice president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs says he is very concerned.

“I think the concern is that it not impacts the elderly but its also we are seeing an uptick in younger people being hospitalized so that’s a concern for those that maybe felt that the concern or the impact that maybe it woudn’t affect them – that we are beginning to see that it’s affecting all ages now.”

Dr. Shannon McDonald – acting chief medical health officer for B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority says she wants to keep encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“The vaccines were really meant to prevent hospitalizations and death and that’s what they are doing they have been very very effective,” says McDonald.

Video Journalist / Vancouver

A proud Métis from BC, Tina began her television career in 1997 as a talent agent for film and TV. She joined APTN National News in 2007 as a Video Journalist in the Vancouver bureau. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story on murdered and missing women and girls.