Canada marked a grim milestone Tuesday as the COVID-19 death toll had reached 25,000.
The Government of Canada website reported 24,983 deaths of as May 17, but Tuesday, the health officials with the province of Ontario announced a further 17 deaths, pushing the total to 25,000.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at a live news conference Tuesday morning, the virus victim figure climbed to 25,008.
Trudeau ignored the total, dwelling instead on more positive news such as the arrival of millions of more doses of vaccine over the summer months. He stayed upbeat, detailing how Canadians who had had one vaccine shot would be able to enjoy more freedom outdoors in the summer. In the fall, Canadians with a second dose could attend inside venues such as sporting events.
“Getting doses into arms is a true team Canada effort,” Trudeau said, adding that “better days are ahead.”
Reporters who asked questions following Trudeau’s remarks also avoided the figure and instead zeroed in on sexual misconduct allegations levelled against Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who when the charges became public stepped down Friday from his role as logistical leader of the vaccine rollout. A handful of other senior ranking officers are also being investigated on historical sexual complaints.
Trudeau said Fortin’s leaving the post would not delay the delivery of vaccines to Canadians.
However, Canadian media websites featured the virus death toll.
A large portion of the virus deaths can be attributed to the elderly in long-term care homes, according to a Canadian Institute for Health Information report in March, 2021.
The report said Canada has the worst record of nursing home deaths among developed countries. Between March 2020 and the end of February, 2021, 80,000 staff and residents were diagnosed with the virus and outbreaks occurred at 2,500 facilities. Resident deaths totaled 14,000, the report said.
As of Tuesday, Canada’s number of cases stood at 1,336,275, with 66,265 active cases, 1,244,848 recovered and 25,008 deaths.
While the most populous province of Ontario, with about 14 million residents, reported an additional 17 deaths, there was reason for optimism. Provincial officials reported 1,616 cases, the lowest daily total since March 24. Officials said the number of cases has continued to spiral downward since a high point on April 17.
The government reported Monday that of the total population of about 38 million, 42.5% (16 million) of Canadians had received one dose of vaccine, while 3.2% (1.3 million) had had two doses.