Canada government will help Toronto as it struggles with COVID-19, says PM Trudeau

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government will help Toronto as the country’s largest city struggles to cope with a rapidly worsening wave of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: The team lead from Humber River Hospital’s mobile vaccine clinic, Ruben Rodriguez, administers the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to an employee of pharmaceutical company Apotex, as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Toronto is the capital of Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, where cases could treble by the end of May unless tough restrictions are imposed, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. cited sources as saying.

Some Ontario hospitals say they are close to breaking point as the latest wave rips through the province. The head of its main nurses organization is demanding a full lockdown including a curfew.

“In Toronto in particular, numbers are breaking record after record … there’s no doubt that Canada’s largest city is struggling under the weight of this third wave. So we’re going to do whatever it takes to help,” Trudeau told reporters.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has so far resisted wide-ranging steps but is under increasing criticism for how he has handled the epidemic, will make an announcement at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (1830 GMT).

Trudeau said Ontario had reached out for help with vaccinations and Ottawa was ready to deploy the Canadian Red Cross with mobile inoculation teams.

“Discussions are ongoing about extra healthcare providers and we are ready to step up,” he said.

Ontario, home to 38% of Canada’s population, announced a record 4,736 daily cases on Thursday and the CBC said this could hit 18,000 by end-May if current trends continued.

Canada’s response has been complicated by the division of responsibilities between the provinces and Ottawa, which helps fund healthcare but does not run medical services. The federal government is buying vaccines but the provinces are in charge of inoculations.

Ottawa said Moderna Inc – blaming supply problems – would only be delivering 650,000 doses by the end of April as opposed to 1.2 million. Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the news was disappointing.

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