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Nova Scotia under lockdown while Ontario takes steps to relieve strained hospitals

A full shutdown is taking effect in Nova Scotia today in an effort to rein in surging COVID-19 cases, while Ontario enacts more measures aimed at relieving its overburdened hospitals.

The lockdown in Nova Scotia is set to last two weeks and comes as the provinces grapples with nearly 500 active infections including 75 new cases reported today.

In Ontario, where COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care occupancy have hit new peaks in recent weeks, the provincial government issued an emergency order meant to free up hospital capacity.

The province says hospitals will now be able to transfer patients waiting for a long-term care bed to any nursing home without their consent.

Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, says transfers without consent will only take place in the most urgent situations, and only if doctors are confident the move won’t compromise the patient’s condition.

The order comes as Ontario’s auditor general issued a report Wednesday saying the province’s nursing homes were woefully unprepared for the pandemic due to years of failure to address known problems. 

Bonnie Lysyk cited poor ministry oversight and a severe staffing shortage that existed even before the pandemic struck, saying both the provincial government and nursing-home sector had not heeded lessons learned from the SARS epidemic.

Meanwhile, Canada is poised to receive its first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine today, according to a federal source. The doses are expected to be distributed to provinces next week.

Canada’s panel of vaccine experts, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, hasn’t issued any guidance yet on how the vaccine the fourth approved for use in Canada should be used.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2021.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press