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Ford hints at 'good news' as Ontario's new case count drops below 400 for 2nd day since early April – CBC.ca

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Ontario’s top doctor tamped down some of Monday’s optimism about the status of COVID-19 in the province, saying while the number of new cases has come down somewhat in recent days, the curve continues to waver up and down.

On Saturday, Ontario reported 511 new cases of the virus, falling to 370 Monday. But Saturday’s numbers represented a jump from April 29, when there were just 347 new cases, Dr. David Williams pointed out.

“So we’re in the range of the possible, but we’re not in the range of the probable at this stage,” Williams said at a news conference Monday. 

The sobering reminder comes as Premier Doug Ford struck a hopeful tone, hinting in his daily COVID-19 update Monday at possible good news for more retail curb-side pick up and for cottage- goers ahead of Victoria Day.

Ford appeared to change his tune about whether Ontarians with cottages should be able to head to their properties during the pandemic, telling reporters, “there’s only so long you can hold back taxpayers.”

The comments follow weeks of the premier insisting people should not be travelling to cottage country to avoid putting undue pressure on smaller communities as the province’s fight with COVID-19 continues.

The premier also said Ontario may be “getting close” to opening parks and more curbside pick-up retail options, as the province saw a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases to under 400 for only the second time since early April.

“We will have some good news” as early as this week, Ford said.

WATCH | Ford hints at new for cottage-goers ahead of Victoria Day weekend:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is now exceeding its goal of 16,000 COVID-19 tests per day, and that more services are ‘getting close’ to opening up. 2:52

That could include Ontario’s garden centres, whose operators say they’re frustrated by government orders meant to ease the restrictions they’ve been under. While landscapers and lawn-care workers can resume their usual workloads, garden centres say the new rules only allow them to provide curbside pickup and delivery services.

The province also saw another 48 COVID-19 related deaths Monday, bringing the total to 1,359, based on CBC’s analysis of data provided by Ontario’s local health units.

The provincial government has said it wants to see a steady drop in new confirmed cases for a two-to-four week period before embarking on the first phase of easing emergency measures.

Speaking to reporters, Ford lauded the province for reaching its target of 16,000 tests per day ahead of schedule, claiming Ontario’s testing strategy has allowed it to “stay ahead of this virus.” In the initial weeks of the pandemic, the province was slow to ramp up its testing, drawing criticism for not acting quickly enough to stop the spread.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Ford said, but added the results are giving him confidence about the weeks ahead.

Ford calls for national contact-tracing strategy

Ford was asked Monday about random community testing, which some experts have said is key before reopening the economy. The premier said he is calling for a national strategy for contact tracing, and said he has spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland about it. The premiers are set to discuss the topic later in the week. 

Also at Monday’s news conference, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is looking at the possibility of designating certain hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients to free up others to start performing elective surgeries, but many details need to be worked out first.

Monday saw the reopening of a small group of seasonal businesses in the province —  a move Ford said last week should be seen as a “glimmer of hope” that the province’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 are working.

Monday’s COVID-19 update from the government reflects Ford’s optimism, with 370 new cases confirmed. The only other instance of an increase lower than 400 was in the province’s April 29th report, when 347 new cases were confirmed.

WATCH | Key trends heading in the right direction, Ford says:

There have now been 17,923 confirmed cases in the province since the COVID-19 outbreak began in late January, of which 12,505 cases are now considered resolved. 

At this point, 984 patients are in hospital — a slight drop from yesterday’s total of 1010. The number of patients in the ICU also dropped slightly from 232 to 225, while those on ventilators stayed steady, increasing by one to 175.

According to Indigenous Services Canada, there are 38 confirmed cases on First Nations reserves in Ontario.

The struggle at long-term care homes continues, with nearly 1,000 resident deaths related to COVID-19-linked illnesses now reported. There have been outbreaks at 212 long-term care homes with 175 still active.

4 Jesuits die after outbreak at Pickering home

Six homes in the province have seen more than 30 deaths, with Orchard Villa Retirement Residence in Pickering hit the hardest with 54 deaths so far. 

Not far away, René Goupil House, a home for elderly Jesuits in Pickering, is also dealing with the fallout of an outbreak declared on April 20.

As of Sunday, four Jesuits have died and 16 others have been infected, according to the Provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, Erik Oland.

“In light of the COVID-19 reality, it is now our turn to pray for these men during a time when they have become society’s most vulnerable, given age and pre-existing health issues,” Oland wrote in his release. 

The toll of COVID-19 on Canada’s nursing homes is also giving rise to a growing number of proposed class-action lawsuits in Quebec and Ontario.

Looking toward reopening

Last week, a provincial framework for reopening said that a “consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases,” as well as decreased hospitalization rates, would be necessary before the government can begin loosening emergency measures first enacted in March. 

As of Monday, Garden centres, landscapers and car dealerships are among those allowed to reopen, though certain limitations remain.

Some kinds of construction projects — including work on municipal projects, telecommunications, child-care centres and schools — are also being allowed to go forward.

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Thousands still flying into Canadian airports despite COVID-19 restrictions – CBC.ca

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While U.S. and international flights coming into Canada have been significantly curtailed since the outbreak of COVID-19, thousands of passengers are still arriving each week at the country’s airports.

It’s an issue that at least one infection control epidemiologist believes is cause for concern.

“The fact of the matter is this pandemic arrived everywhere in the world through travel,” said Colin Furness, who is also an assistant professor with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.

“We should be closing our borders as much as we can. We can’t bring [the number of entrants] down to zero but we should get as close as we can.”

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, 356,673 air travellers came into Canada from the U.S. last year during the week of May 11-17. In the same time period this year, there was a nearly 99 per cent drop.

Yet 3,691 people still entered Canada that week.

As well, international travel in that time period saw a 97 per cent decrease from last year’s total of 374,775. This year, during that same week, 10,845 people arrived at one of the four Canadian airports that accept international flights — Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

In total, since March 23, 76,072 passengers from the U.S. and 193,438 international travellers have arrived in Canada.

Travel-related cases dropped

Two months ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that for air travel specifically, as of March 18, the government was barring foreign nationals from all countries except the U.S. from entering Canada.

But an order in council later that month exempted a number of individuals, including immediate family members of a Canadian citizen, emergency service providers, temporary foreign workers and international students.

The ban came at a time when the vast majority of COVID-19 cases were deemed to be travel-related. Since those restrictions have been implemented, travel-related cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly. 

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, as of May 25, 81 per cent of all COVID-19 cases were related to community transmission. Meanwhile, 19 per cent of cases were the result of someone becoming exposed while travelling or being exposed to a traveler coming to Canada. Nine per cent of cases were those who reported to have travelled outside of Canada.

A series of social distancing policies have been implemented on aircraft in the wake of the pandemic, including the mandatory wearing of masks. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

“The data from PHAC suggest that since the borders were closed, international travel is rarely a cause of cases in Canada — the biggest category by far is domestic spread,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist and chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, in an email. 

“I don’t think the risk [of international travel] is zero but it is much lower than it used to be, especially since international arrivals must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

But Furness said some countries that seemed to get the virus under control have experienced small flare-ups because of infections related to travel.

“It may well be that we’re not seeing a large number of travel-related cases, but one case can then spawn one more, which then spawns a whole ton of community spread,” Furness said.

‘Trusting people to self-isolate’

Anyone arriving in Canada by air or land must complete a contact tracing form to help PHAC monitor and enforce the 14-day quarantine or isolation requirement. Failing to comply with the Quarantine Act can lead to a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

“Those that aren’t [self-isolating] I imagine are in the minority,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher based at Toronto General Hospital.

“I think it’s safe to assume the vast majority of those individuals are adhering to the 14 days isolation.”

Last week, PHAC revealed to CBC News that police officers have made nearly 2,200 home visits to make sure Canadians are complying with the self-isolation rules when they return to Canada.

PHAC said there have been no arrests under the Quarantine Act since the pandemic restrictions began.

Still, Trudeau told reporters last week “we need to do more to ensure that travellers who are coming back from overseas or from the United States … are properly followed up on, are properly isolated and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19.”

He said conversations were ongoing with the premiers regarding potential monitoring tools for those arriving in Canada.

Stringent policies

Recently, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced his government was implementing more stringent measures at the province’s two international airports in Calgary and Edmonton to screen incoming passengers from outside Canada for symptoms of COVID-19.

Travellers arriving from destinations outside Canada will undergo temperature scans and provide provincial officials with details of their 14-day mandatory quarantine plan. That includes where they will stay and how they will get there. 

Travellers without such plans or private transport to their destinations will be isolated on site, Kenney said. 

WATCH | The future of flying:

Technology could play a big role as airports and airlines develop new ways to help passengers feel safer. 3:43

In April, the federal government announced that all air travellers would have to wear face masks while in transit and whenever maintaining two metres’ separation from others is not possible.

Passengers arriving in or departing from Canada have to prove they have a non-medical mask or face covering with them during the boarding process. If they can’t, they can be prevented from continuing their journey.

Some airlines have capped the number of tickets they sell, or ensure that the middle seat is kept empty.

However, the International Air Transport Association, in an effort to restart commercial flights, suggested this month that it was time to end some of the in-flight physical distancing rules.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on May 26 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Quebec and Ontario reported the vast majority of Canada’s new coronavirus cases on Monday, as the number of confirmed and presumptive infections across the country rose to more than 85,000.

Quebec reported 573 new cases, while Ontario reported 404, which together make up roughly 96 per cent of Canada’s 1,011 new infections over the past 24 hours.

Monday’s figures come a day after Ontario’s premier announced an opening up of COVID-19 testing criteria. Doug Ford reiterated on Monday that people who feel they need a test should go to one of the province’s assessment centres — even if they don’t have symptoms.

Ford also pleaded for people who live in “hotspots” to get tested for the virus — saying the government is able to measure them by postal code and that some areas are “lighting up like a Christmas tree” — but that data has not been made public. CBC News has requested a breakdown of cases by postal code, but Hayley Chazan, spokesperson for the provincial minister of health, would only say that Ontario’s hardest-hit regions are in Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex County.

WATCH | Ontario testing to focus on ‘hotspots’ in 3 regions, says premier:

Premier Doug Ford says the testing will be narrowed to some postal codes that are ‘lighting up like a Christmas tree’ and need greater attention. 1:09

Ford also scolded a gathering of people at a popular west-end Toronto park over the weekend.

“I’m disappointed, to say the least, with everyone who showed up at Trinity Bellwoods on Saturday,” Ford said. “Why don’t you do us all a favour and get tested now,” he said.

However, both Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, and Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa contradicted the premier’s advice and said people who were at Trinity Bellwoods Park this weekend should instead self-monitor for 14 days and try to avoid contact with vulnerable people such as seniors and young children.

The provincial government has faced criticism for its public messaging during the COVID-19 outbreak, with Ontario’s top doctor even acknowledging last week that it has been inconsistent at times.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott also cited the Trinity Bellwoods Park incident as one of the reasons the province is maintaining a five-person maximum for gatherings.

Elliott said the province had been considering allowing groups of more than five to gather in the near future, but those plans have temporarily been put aside. The province has prohibited gatherings of more than five people, unless they live together, since March 28.

“It is something that will be coming forward, but it has been pushed back a little bit,” Elliott said.

WATCH | Ontario delays loosening group restrictions:

The province says it will maintain its emergency order restricting groups to five or fewer people, in part due to the large crowd at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday. 0:54

The new cases reported Monday brought the total number of cases in the Ontario to 25,904, with 19,698 considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of coronavirus-related deaths based on provincial health information, regional data and CBC’s reporting stood at 2,188 in the province.

Quebec is the only province in the country that has seen more COVID-19 cases than Ontario, with 47,984 reported cases and 4,069 reported deaths. Quebec lists 14,654 cases as recovered or resolved. While stores and schools have reopened across most of Quebec, the hard-hit island of Montreal — which has been the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada — had delayed its reopening.

For some retailers in Montreal that delay ends Monday, as they are allowed to open with increased public health precautions, including physical distancing rules and stepped-up hygiene requirements.

A customer wearing a face mask pays for a purchase at a department store in Montreal on Monday as many non-essential businesses are allowed to re-open. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Like Ontario, Quebec has struggled to meet its testing goals and is still reporting hundreds of new cases a day. Last week, Quebec reported hundreds of new cases daily, with the lowest daily figure coming in at 570 on May 19 and rising to 720 on May 21.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the regional variability of the pandemic on Monday, saying “our approach will have to be tailored to each community.”

“That means the rules and public health recommendations you’re asked to follow may be different depending on where you live, and that can be confusing,” Trudeau said Monday outside Rideau Cottage. “But right across the country, one thing will stay the same — everyone has a responsibility to themselves and the people around them.”

He said moving forward has to happen gradually and carefully, adding that testing and contact tracing are critical to reopening.

Trudeau also said the federal government is talking to the provinces about bringing in 10 days of paid sick leave for workers — something the NDP demanded in exchange for supporting the Liberals’ plan to extend the suspension of the House of Commons during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody should have to choose between taking a day off work due to illness or being able to pay their bills. Just like nobody should have to choose between staying home with COVID-19 symptoms or being able to afford rent or groceries,” Trudeau said. 

“That’s why the government will continue discussions with the provinces, without delay, on ensuring that as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, every worker in Canada who needs it has access to ten days of paid sick leave a year. And we’ll also consider other mechanisms for the longer term to support workers with sick leave.”

WATCH | Trudeau questioned about paid sick leave plan:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters on Monday. 2:40

On Parliament Hill, a small number MPs gathered Monday to debate the Liberals’ proposal to waive normal House of Commons sittings in favour of expanding the special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a sort of replacement for most in-person sessions for the past month.

Their motion proposes adding an additional day to the committee’s current schedule of one in-person meeting per week (with fewer than three dozen MPs actually present) and two online meetings per week.

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17, with a hybrid of in-person and virtual attendance that would see a small number of MPs in the Commons chamber and others participating via two large video screens set up on either side of the Speaker’s chair.

The Conservatives have indicated they want to do away with the special COVID-19 committee and bring back House of Commons sittings, including opposition days, private members’ business and other activities that cannot occur within the committee format.

From left: NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet are seen during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The novel virus that causes COVID-19 first emerged in China in 2019 but has since spread around the world, prompting travel restrictions, lockdowns and massive economic fallout. The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

As of 7 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 85,711 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 44,651 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. CBC’s tally of coronavirus deaths stood at 6,637. 

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday there has been “significant progress” in B.C. as new case numbers continue to track low.

“We are moving forward,” Henry said. “Our success so far, and our ability to ease restrictions relies on our shared commitment and effort and we need that to continue.”

Henry reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing B.C.’s total to 2,530. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

A hair stylist works on a client at a hair salon in Vancouver on Monday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the government has ordered 40 million masks and will soon announce a distribution plan for them.

Meanwhile, businesses in Calgary and Brooks began reopening on Monday. Much of the province was allowed to reopen on May 14, but the two cities reopened at a slower pace due to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their regions. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta

A barista serves coffee from behind plexiglass at a cafe in Calgary on Monday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Saskatchewan reported two more case on Monday, as well as eight more recoveries. One of the new cases is in the far north region, while the other is in the northern region. Read more about what’s happening In Saskatchewan, including a story about door-to-door testing in La Loche, which has seen a large share of the province’s cases.

Manitoba has now gone three straight days without reporting any new cases. The number of active cases remains at 17 on Monday, and no one is being treated for the illness in hospital. The province’s death toll stands at seven, while 268 people have recovered. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario reported 404 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a 1.6 per cent jump that continues an upward trend of new daily cases that began about two weeks ago.

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in January to nearly 26,000. Of those, 76 per cent are resolved. 

The number of active cases in the province has risen by about 20 per cent in the last week, and is now more than 4,100. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

WATCH | Ottawa resident on why they’re seeking COVID-19 tests:

Ottawa Public Health now says anyone, with or without symptoms, can be tested for COVID-19, leading some residents to head to the city’s assessment centre at Brewer Park Arena. 1:07

In Quebec, public transit users in Laval and Montreal are being encouraged to wear masks as hundreds of thousands of people returned to work this morning.

Politicians and a brigade of Société de transport de Montréal (STM) workers are handing out free masks at Metro stations in Laval and Montreal. Exo staff members are also giving out masks.

Masks are not obligatory in Quebec, but Premier François Legault, who now wears one to his daily briefing, has strongly encouraged people to wear them. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

WATCH | Montreal mayor hands out masks at metro station:

As more people start heading back to work, local politicians join public transit staff in distributing masks. For now, the masks are recommended, but not mandatory. 0:59

New Brunswick again reported no new coronavirus again on Monday. The province is planning to lift even more restrictions put in place to deal with COVID-19 later this week. Read more about what’s happening in N.B. 

Nova Scotia reported one new coronavirus case on Monday and one new recovery. The vast majority of COVID-19-related deaths in the province have been linked to Northwood, a Halifax long-term care home. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

WATCH | Some good news from around the world on Monday:

With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here’s a brief roundup. 2:33

Prince Edward Island, which has no active cases of COVID-19, will see its first sitting of the legislature since the start of the pandemic this week. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases again on Monday. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., where the province has pledged $25 million to help the tourism sector, which the premier said employs about 20,000 people.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Sunday. Nunavut, which remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed cases, released a plan on Monday to reopen the territory. Called Nunavut’s Path, it starts by allowing daycare centres to open as of June 1, along with municipal playgrounds and outdoor use of territorial parks. It allows 25 people to gather together outside, but keeps the limit for gathering indoors at five. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

WATCH | People enjoy new freedoms but also find unusual ways to live in a world with the coronavirus still present:

People enjoy new freedoms but also find unusual ways to live in a world with the coronavirus still present  5:19

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Canada reports 121 more coronavirus deaths, more than 1,000 new cases – Global News

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Canada’s total cases of the novel coronavirus passed the 85,000 mark on Monday after a total of 1,014 more cases were announced.


READ MORE:
Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

The new cases, which include 121 more deaths, were tallied from data released by provincial and federal health authorities across the country.

The added numbers brings Canada’s total cases and deaths to 85,700 and 6,545, respectively.

The provinces of Ontario and Quebec once again reported the highest amount daily COVID-19 cases.






2:07
Coronavirus: Dentists scrambling to get ready to reopen, with strict conditions


Coronavirus: Dentists scrambling to get ready to reopen, with strict conditions

Ontario announced an increase of 404 cases, bringing its provincial total to 25,904. A total of 2,102 people have died in the province from the virus following Monday’s increase of 29.

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Quebec’s total coronavirus cases reached 47,984 on Monday following an increase of 573 cases. The province remains the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak, with a total of 4,069 deaths as of May 25 — accounting for over 60 per cent of the country’s death toll.

Other provinces announced new cases of the coronavirus on Monday as well.

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Cases in British Columbia rose by another 12 on Monday, while a total of 19 more cases were announced in Alberta.

Saskatchewan announced a single-digit increase in COVID-19 infections with an increase of just two cases.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia remained the only province to report an additional coronavirus infection with an announcement of one case.

More to come…

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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