As the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic caused mainly by the Omicron variant continues in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attacked those who still refused to get vaccinated, saying Canadians were “angry” and “frustrated” with the anti-vaxxers.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday on the health crisis facing the country, Justin Trudeau said, “It’s not just about governments and health workers frustrated that there are Canadians who still continue to choose to not get vaccinated. It’s fellow Canadians as well.”
The Canadian government has also instituted vaccine mandates requiring proof of being jabbed for travelling by air, train and on cruise ships, and some provinces bar those without vaccination certificates from accessing some facilities like gyms, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, as well as sports and entertainment events.
Case levels in Canada continue to be of concern as its chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam tweeted on Wednesday, “Covid-19 cases have rapidly accelerated, with #Omicron now predominating and widespread across much of the country. The latest 7-day average of 40,696 cases/day is a 78% increase over last week.”
According to official data, about 82% of the population has received one dose of a Covid-19 jab, with nearly 77% being fully vaccinated. A booster programme is also under way for those aged above 18 years. Vaccination uptake in Canada is among the highest worldwide.
In his criticism of those choosing not to get vaccinated, Justin Trudeau added, “When people are seeing cancer treatments and elective surgeries put off because beds are filled with people who chose not to get vaccinated, they’re frustrated.”
“When people see that we are in lockdowns or serious public health restrictions right now because of the risk posed to all of us by unvaccinated people, people get angry,” he said.
Canada’s healthcare system has come under pressure in the latest wave: While hospitalisations and deaths remain lower than previous outbreaks, the very transmissible Omicron variant has led to large numbers of medical personnel infected and unavailable.
With molecular tests now restricted in several jurisdictions to symptomatic or hospitalised patients, Canada has been struggling to meet the demand for testing and has turned to rapid antigen kits. Trudeau also announced that 140 million such kits will be distributed to the provinces and territories this month.