A registered pharmacist technician carefully fills the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a vaccine clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on December 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A registered pharmacist technician carefully fills the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a vaccine clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on December 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Quebec curfew ‘sets the tone’ for pandemic fight, says expert

TORONTO — The possibility of stricter lockdown measures loomed Thursday for regions beyond Quebec as COVID-19 cases surged and critics pushed for accelerated vaccinations.

Quebec’s move to implement curfews reverberated especially in Ontario where daily infection and death tallies reached new highs and Premier Doug Ford hinted at a new plan for schools.

Leaning on data that suggests COVID-19 positivity rates among children is on the rise, Ford expressed concern over resuming in-class learning on Monday as planned.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health was to address the matter later Thursday.

University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk says Quebec’s decision to begin a four-week curfew Saturday “sets the tone” for the nation’s escalating pandemic fight.

Kindrachuk suspected the tough stance sends “alarm bells” to anyone still debating whether the second wave really is that bad and may embolden political and public health leaders in other regions to tighten their own measures.

“Maybe it causes people in the western provinces where they’re not being that hard-hit right now to rethink what things they’re not doing as far as infection prevention control,” says Kindrachuk, pointing to widely varying school mask mandates as an example.

On Wednesday, Quebec became the first province to impose a curfew as soaring infections intensified the strain on hospitals.

The measure bars people from leaving their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., except to work.

The province reported 2,519 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 74 more deaths, including 16 that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Ontario reported 3,519 new cases of COVID-19 and 89 more deaths on Thursday, both daily highs for the province.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette appealed to Canadians’ sense of duty in a plea to adhere to public health measures including social distancing and minimizing movements.

In a video statement, Payette said vaccines offer hope but there aren’t yet enough to go around.

The push to speed up vaccinations is expected to be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convenes a virtual First Ministers meeting later Thursday.

Earlier this week, Trudeau voiced frustration over the pace of getting Canadians inoculated against the novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, Canada had received nearly 425,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — but fewer than 150,000 Canadians had received shots by then.

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