Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

The latest:

Schools in Ontario will move to online learning after the April break, Premier Doug Ford said Monday, following consultations with health officials.

Ford said community spread of COVID-19 is too high to risk having students congregate after the break. “The problem is not in our school, it’s in our community,” he said at a news conference.

He said the government will decide, based on COVID-19 data, when in-person classes can resume. Spring break began Monday after the province postponed it in March to discourage travel during the pandemic.

The provincial government had previously maintained that schools would reopen next week but unions had called for schools to close in the absence of stronger safety measures.

The premier also said that despite the closures, child care for non-school age children will remain open. Before- and after-school programs, however, will be closed. Free emergency child care for school-aged children of eligible health-care and front-line workers is also being provided, the province says.

Last week, the medical officers of health in Peel Region, Toronto and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph decided to close schools in their respective public health units.

Earlier, health officials in the province reported 4,401 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths.

Hospitals across much of Ontario will start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday that could increase intensive-care unit capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.

The province on Monday reported having 1,646 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 619 patients in intensive care units.

Hospitals in northern Ontario are exempt from cancelling non-urgent procedures, but a memo from Ontario Health on Thursday night said they should prepare to ramp down quickly in the near future. The memo also asked hospitals to identify staff who may be redeployed to other sites if necessary.

Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, told CBC News Network on Monday that the surgical backlog in the province is only going to get worse as hospitals adjust and cancel non-emergency services to deal with critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“We’re asking people who need cardiac care, cancer care, even organ transplantation through this pandemic to wait —  to wait even longer,” Dale said.

Meanwhile, more than 700 pharmacies are joining Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the province races to slow the spread of the virus. Government officials say the move will rapidly expand availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 55 and over this week.