March 8, 2021, the Ontario government announced the completion of the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in 31 northern remote Indigenous communities through Operation Remote Immunity. Launched on February 1, 2021, Operation Remote Immunity prioritizes remote communities, many of which are only accessible by air and are at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 due to limited access to health care services.
The administration of second doses is now underway in these communities, and is expected to be completed by the end of April.
This afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, provided an update on COVID-19 trends in Ontario.
Earlier today, all 24 of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges began accepting applications to Ontario’s new accelerated training program for personal support workers (PSWs). This program, first announced last month, involves an investment of over $115 million from the government to train new PSWs for jobs in the province’s health and long-term care sectors. The tuition-free program is expected to take six months to complete, and will be offered to 6,000 students.
Operation Remote Immunity
Today, the Ontario government announced the completion of the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations in 31 northern remote Indigenous communities through Operation Remote Immunity. In total, 12,660 first doses were administered.
Operation Remote Immunity launched on February 1, 2021, and prioritizes administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in fly-in northern communities and Moosonee, which face a disproportionate risk from the pandemic due to limited access to health care services. The effort is supported by Ornge, an air ambulance and critical care transport service, and was co-developed by Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and the Nishnawbe Askia Nation.
Administration of second doses is currently underway in six of the communities, and is expected to be completed next month. To date, 2,664 second doses have been administered.
Update on COVID-19 Trends
This afternoon, Dr. Williams and Dr. Yaffe provided an update on COVID-19 trends in Ontario. Key points include:
- The seven-day average case count is 1,155, which is up from 1,099 last week.
- There are 626 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, which is down from 659 last week.
- This week’s average percent positivity of 2.6% is unchanged from last week.
- There are 935 confirmed variant cases in Ontario, 879 of which are the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in the U.K.).
During today’s update, Dr. Williams acknowledged that case counts have been trending slightly upwards in recent days and encouraged Ontarians to remain vigilant and continue to adhere to public health measures.