Northern Ontario COVID-19 lockdown extended until at least Jan. 23

The lockdown in northern Ontario has been extended for two weeks as the province continues to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases, although northern Ontario students will continue in-person learning on Monday.

The lockdown extension comes as the province has announced the continuation of online learning for southern Ontario students until Jan. 25.

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The province says officials decided on the extensions in order to reduce COVID-19 transmission and to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, while also addressing that northern Ontario students can’t learn from home as effectively due to limited internet access.

“In the last two weeks, we have seen concerning trends at home and abroad, as well as increased community transmission during the holidays, indicating that it is not yet the time to begin easing public health and workplace safety measures,” Ontario’s deputy premier and health minister, Christine Elliott, said in a statement.

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“While extending the shutdown in northern Ontario is not the news many wanted to hear, we must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect hospital capacity, and save lives.”

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Since Ontario implemented a provincewide shutdown almost two weeks ago, officials say trends in public health indicators have continued to worsen.

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According to the Ontario government, many northern health regions show increased transmission of the novel coronavirus, with only one region showing a sustained low level of transmission.

Since the lockdown was implemented on Dec. 26, 2020, northern Ontario has seen three more COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the province.

Northern Ontario currently has nine COVID-19 patients requiring acute care, four who are in the intensive care unit, with two on a ventilator.

The province says the acute hospital occupancy in the Algoma and Sudbury areas is at more than 90 per cent.

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