Canada's Ontario to begin 4-week COVID-19 state of emergency today

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Representative Image

Ontario [Canada], April 8 (ANI/Sputnik): Ontario is declaring a state of emergency and introducing a stay-at-home order effective Thursday amid an increase in coronavirus variant cases, Premier Doug Ford announced on Wednesday.

"I am declaring a state of emergency with a province-wide stay-at-home order effective 12:01 a.m. [4:01 a.m. GMT] Thursday. This will be in effect for four weeks," Ford told reporters.

The premier noted that non-essential businesses will be limited to curbside pick-up service, while big box stores will be limited to selling essential items, including groceries and medical supplies.

Ontario introduced a four-week lockdown starting on Saturday, but that has not stopped the surge in coronavirus variant cases. Ford noted that the daily case counts are rising faster than the worst-case scenario projected by an expert panel advising the provincial government.

Ontario's public health authorities are recording an average of more than 3,000 new cases daily since the introduction of a third province-wide lockdown since the onset of the pandemic. Experts estimate that variants - particularly the B.1.1.7 one first identified in the United Kingdom - now make up two-thirds of all new cases.

To date, Ontario has reported 370,817 cases and 7,475 virus-related deaths since the onset of the pandemic a year ago. (ANI/Sputnik)