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'We are in a crisis. It is scary': Ontario Premier Doug Ford begs for AstraZeneca vaccine, as province enters 'serious' state with over 4,000 cases in a day

Elisabetta Bianchini
·3-min read

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is warning the public that “we’re in a desperate situation” as the province reports a record-breaking 4,249 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

“We are in a crisis. It is scary and we need to work together,” the premier said.

The cases reported on Friday include 1,382 new cases in Toronto, 691 in Peel, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara and 184 in Windsor-Essex County.

There was a data upload delay at Toronto Public health, with about 450 cases included in today’s case count that were primarily from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6.

Ford also teased that the province will release modelling information early next week that is “a wake up call” for anyone who sees it.

“There’s going to be a wake up call,” the premier said. “When you see the modelling, you’ll fall off your chair.”

“If we don’t have the cooperation of the people, this is going to get out of hand. Please, please just follow the protocols.”

Ford said this is “the most serious situation” Ontario has been in since the beginning of the pandemic and continued to promise that “everything is on the table.”

“There will be further measures because this is getting out of control and we have to do whatever it takes,” the premier said.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said that in addition to the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province being “scary,” new variants of the virus are also a concern.

Ontario has currently identified six cases of the U.K. variant, which is known to be 56 per cent more contagious, but Dr. Yaffe said “there’s probably more that we don’t know about.”

“We’ve been pretty lucky so far, as far as we know the cases have been in people who recently travelled to the U.K. or were close contacts of travellers,” she said. “We may not be so lucky in the future.”

“We are in a very serious situation, we need to consider all possible measures to contain this infection. We don’t want more people dying, we don’t want the ICUs overwhelmed, we don’t want morgues overwhelmed.”

Dr. Yaffe added that officials “don’t want to scare people” but she believes there has been “ too much complacency” from Ontarians.

There are currently 1,446 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, including 369 in ICUs. The province also confirmed 26 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 4,882 throughout the pandemic. Ontario’s test positivity is currently 6.2 per cent, with 71,481 tests completed in the past day.

‘Please approve AstraZeneca, we’re in desperate need of it’

As vaccinations continue in the province, with almost 15,000 people vaccinated on Thursday, Ford said he is “hopeful” that the federal government will get more vaccine doses for Ontario. The premier said the province will run out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of next week.

Dr. Ken Smith, President & CEO, University Health Network, has indicated that the Toronto hospital network is out of vaccine is more doses are “urgently needed” to vaccinate healthcare workers.

Ford also called on the federal government to approve the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

“Please approve AstraZeneca, we’re in desperate need of it,” the premier said. “Please approve it, it’s been approved by other health agencies around the world. That will really, really help us out.”

Ford said beginning in April a more significant number of vaccine doses will start to be available.

“We just have to get through these next few months and then we can get everyone vaccinated,” he said. “April, May, June, those are the crunch months that we’ll be able to do mass vacation.”

The federal government has said that by September, everyone who wants to be immunized should be able to access the vaccine.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.