January 25, 2021, marks one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Canada.
Over a year ago, on January 23, Patient Zero, a man in his 50s, was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital with a fever and respiratory symptoms.
On Saturday, January 25, 2020, tests confirmed that the man, who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, had contracted the coronavirus, which is what the virus was known as at the time.
Sunnybrook said that when the patient was admitted last year, the hospital had been preparing for a potential pandemic.
“There is no clear evidence that this virus is easily transmitted between people at this time,” the federal government said. “The overall risk to Canadian travellers and to Canada remains low.”
In the 365 days since, Canada has recorded 747,383 COVID-19 cases and 19,094 virus-related deaths.
Over the past months, new faster-spreading virus variants have emerged, further threatening strained healthcare systems. As of January 22, Canada has seen 31 cases of the mutation first discovered in the UK variant, and three cases of the South African variant.
“The virus continues to test us,” said Dr. Ann Collins, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, in a release. “We are in the midst of a national tragedy.”
Collins continued to say, “We will undoubtedly face more challenges in the coming months. The vaccine, however, has given us hope that our country could be vastly different six months from now.”
On the sombre anniversary, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott called the pandemic one of the most “difficult challenges” in the province’s history.
Since the first case of #COVID19 was confirmed in Ontario one year ago today, we have been tested like never before. In year unlike any other, Ontarians have come together to support each other and have shown the world that the Ontario Spirit endures. pic.twitter.com/37xcBwVGn1
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) January 25, 2021
In a release, officials called Health Canada’s approval of two COVID-19 vaccines a “beacon of hope” and noted that over 285,000 Ontarians, including frontline healthcare workers and retirement home residents, have now been vaccinated.
Ford and Elliott urged Ontarians to continue to follow public health advice until vaccines are widely available.
Across the country, BC Premier John Horgan echoed their words, reminding British Columbians that they must “remain vigilant.”
“COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down,” Horgan said. “While the end of the pandemic is in sight, thanks to the availability of vaccines, the threat is not over.”
Since March 2020, Canadian provinces have implemented different lockdown measures and closures to help reduce increases in COVID-19 cases and transmissions.
With lockdown measures continuing in some of Canada’s hardest-hit provinces, over 10,000 restaurants have closed, affecting approximately 800,000 jobs.
A total of 58,000 Canadian businesses also closed their doors over the last year, and a further 181,000 are at risk of permanently shutting down.
As of January 25, 2021, Quebec remains under a curfew, and Ontario is under a Stay at Home order.