By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada is in the grip of the coronavirus, with the worst record of long-term care home deaths among wealthy nations, said a report released on Tuesday.
The victims account for 69%, about 15,780, of total deaths which stood at 22,871 as of Tuesday, according to a running total by Johns Hopkins University.
At least one primary science expert warned this week that the virus is “completely out of control” as it rages through the country’s most populated province of Ontario.
At 69%, the nursing home deaths total a dismal 28% above the international average of 41%, according to the report authored by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
The numbers are staggering. From March 2020 to February 2021, there were 80,000 nursing and retirement home residents and staff infected with the virus. Deaths during that period totaled 14,000 at the time the report was compiled. The outbreaks were experienced in 2,500 care homes.
"Relative to other nations in the world, Canada has actually the worst record overall," Samir Sinha, director of health policy research and the co-chair of the National Institute on Ageing, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Provincial investigations are now being conducted to explore the reasons for Canada’s somber record in long-term care homes.
But one known factor may be that there were staff shortages, “as a result of staff illnesses due to COVID-19 and higher absenteeism rates,” the report said.
Meanwhile, in Ontario, where 13 million of the country’s 38 million reside, the virus is raging, with more deadly variants and hospitalizations up more than 20%.
"Right now in Ontario, the pandemic is completely out of control," Peter Juni, scientific director and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto, told the CBC.
Without a significant provincial lockdown and paid sick leave to allow people to stay home if they are ill, the numbers will get worse in the next few weeks, Juni said.
"There is no such thing as winning this race with just vaccinations," he said. "That's impossible."
As of Tuesday, there were 976,647 cases in Canada.
A total of 5.3 million vaccinations have been administered, the National Post newspaper reported.
After a slow rollout in part due to shortages, the vaccine supply is improving with about 3.3 million arriving this week, according to the CBC.