OTTAWA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday urged pandemic tired Canadians to “hang in there” for a few more weeks as the country’s vaccine rollout accelerates but COVID-19 variants rise.
“We are in a situation where everyone is exhausted,” Trudeau told a news conference. “This has been a very, very long year.”
But, he added, “we’re going through a third wave and we have to keep hanging in there for a few more weeks so we can really flatten the basket and let vaccines that come in the millions in the coming weeks have an effect.”
Canada crossed the threshold of one million coronavirus cases on Saturday, forcing several provinces to tighten restrictions in recent days. Just over 23,000 people have died.
The nation’s economic engine and the most populous province of Ontario last week ordered a near-shutdown until late April, while neighboring Quebec extended a nightmare imposed at the beginning of the year.
An increase in variants – almost tripled in the last two weeks – and related admissions are causing growing alarm, said Head of Public Health Theresa Tam.
To date, more than 15,200 varieties have been reported with the highest numbers found in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
“These worrying trends underscore the need for us all to continue to follow public health advice … as vaccination programs accelerate,” she said.
Canada’s vaccination program, launched in December, has been plagued by delays in deliveries of doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna from Europe. In addition, new age restrictions were introduced for AstraZeneca jab for safety reasons.
To date, 15.7% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website.
But Trudeau said the rollout would accelerate rapidly now, as more deliveries come in, and the government would achieve its goal of getting all Canadians vaccinated “before the end of the summer.”
“Last week was a record week,” he said, “but we’re looking forward to getting even more (vaccines) in the coming weeks.”