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Canada During Covid

Countries, communities, and individuals around the world are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. How will historians remember this time in history? Canada During COVID-19: A Living Archive is meant to capture the experiences of everyday Canadians as they live through this challenging time.

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Health Canada Issues First Warning Regarding “Mysterious Pneumonia”

The Public Health Agency of Canada issued its first warning about a mysterious and deadly viral illness, which had first been reported a week prior in Wuhan, China. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said, “Right now we are monitoring the situation very carefully. It is worth maintaining vigilance.” Canadian travellers to Wuhan were advised to avoid “high-risk areas” such as farms and animal markets.

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Canada Enters Fourth Wave as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, announced that “a fourth wave is underway in Canada and that cases are plotting along a strong resurgence trajectory.” The seven-day average for new cases of COVID-19 increased to nearly 1,300 (a 60 per cent increase from the week before) and the total number of active cases (more than 13,000) had more than doubled since late July. Dr. Fahad Razak, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said that “from mid-July to mid-August, there’s been a four-fold increase [in cases].” He added that the Delta variant of the virus was far more infectious and was leading to “really explosive growth.”

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Canada Outpaces US in New COVID-19 Cases Amid Third Wave

For the first time in the pandemic, the rolling seven-day average number of new cases in Canada (206.84 cases per million people) surpassed that of the United States (203.81 cases per million people). The third wave was hitting hardest in Ontario, which reported a record-high 4,456 new COVID-19 cases. In more positive news, COVID-19 was proving to be less deadly than it had been a year earlier.

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Greyhound Ends Bus Service in Canada

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After shutting down its services in Western Canada in 2018 and suffering a year without revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greyhound Canada permanently ceased operations after almost 100 years in business. The company’s American affiliate said that it would continue to operate cross-border bus routes to and from the US.

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Doug Ford Apologizes for Widely Criticized Measures

Ontario premier Doug Ford apologized for measures his government had introduced a week earlier. Many of the new rules, including closing all playgrounds and empowering police to detain people out in public during a stay-at-home order, were criticized as “draconian.” On 26 April, three armed forces medical teams were sent to Toronto to assist health care workers, while hospitals worried about possibly having to start triaging patients.


COVID-19 Vaccines

In early 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated, it seemed very unlikely that a safe and effective vaccine could be developed and deployed within one to two years. A vaccine had never been developed against a new virus during a pandemic, and there was no approved vaccine yet to prevent a coronavirus infection in humans. Despite this, the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in December 2020, about a year after the first cases were reported. By July 2021, there were more than 30 COVID-19 vaccines authorized for public use by at least one national regulatory authority. This was possible because of decades of research on coronaviruses and vaccine technology — particularly in the use of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) — significant government investment, and unprecedented cooperation between governments and university research labs, pharmaceutical firms and international health organizations. Several Canadian scientists were involved in key elements of the research that led to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.

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First Cases of Omicron Variant in Canada

Two people who returned to Ottawa from a trip to Nigeria became the first in Canada to test positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, two days after it was declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Omicron variant was reportedly four times more infectious than the already highly contagious Delta variant that had led to a fourth wave of COVID-19 in much of the country. Early reports out of South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, were that it was highly transmissible but less severe than previous strains.