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Brazil records its deadliest day of the pandemic so far

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference on Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference on Tuesday. CTV Network

Canadian public health officials say the B.1.1.7 variant has now likely replaced the original Covid-19 virus in many parts of the country, adding that new variants are making younger people sicker and sending more to the hospital. 

“This isn’t the news any of us wanted but hospitalizations are surging, ICU beds are filling up, variants are spreading and even people who had convinced themselves they didn’t need to be concerned are getting sick,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference Tuesday.

This is a “very serious” third wave of the pandemic, he added.

Trudeau made a pointed appeal to young people urging them to “stay home,” saying younger Canadians are getting sicker in this third wave. 

Canada’s Public Health Agency said intensive care admissions are up 18% in the last week alone, saying that the new variants are placing a ‘heavy strain” on hospital capacity. 

“With increasing rates of infection we are seeing a greater number of younger adults with COVID-19 being treated in hospital,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said.

“Many of them deteriorate quite quickly and have to be admitted to the ICU quite immediately, and then they spend quite a bit length of time staying in the ICU, which means that there’s a capacity impact as well,” she added.

Tam explained that while hospitalizations haven’t increased dramatically, more of those patients admitted are now needing critical care as variants are making them more severely ill. She added that more than 15,000 variant cases had been detected so far, the vast majority of them the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the UK. 

While the B.1.1.7 variant has now likely become the dominant variant in Canada, Tam said her team is also keeping a close eye on a significant outbreak of the P.1. variant, first detected in Brazil and now surging in some western Canadian provinces.

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

“The most transmissive variants of COVID-19 are ultimately going to take over,” the minister said during a Covid briefing Monday. 

British Columbia has moved to close the Whistler ski resort and further restrict gatherings in the province now also coping with an outbreak of the virus among NHL hockey players with the Vancouver Canucks.

The province of Alberta also confirmed that it was dealing with new clusters of cases involving the P.1. variant. 

Ontario, meantime, is debating new and more restrictive measures, including a stay-at-home order, as its ICU capacity is increasingly strained. 

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