Ontario reported 821 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the second-most on a single day since a resurgence of the illness began in the province in mid-August.
Toronto once again saw the most with 327, while 136 were recorded Peel Region and 79 in Ottawa.
The new case count is the highest number the province has seen in the second wave, since 939 cases were reported on Oct. 9. The seven-day average of new daily cases, which had been slowly dropping over the last several days, ticked back up with today’s update and is now about 743.
Notably, just over 24,000 tests were completed yesterday — the lowest number of tests Ontario has processed on a single day since Sept. 9. The province previously said it aimed to be processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October, and as many as 68,000 daily by mid-November.
The number of confirmed, active infections of the novel coronavirus in Ontario is 6,237, an all-time high.
Hospitalizations, as well as the number of patients in intensive care and using ventilators, all went up. Hospitalizations rose from 252 yesterday to 274 today, ICU patients went from 69 yesterday to 72 today, and people in the ICU using ventilators went from 40 to 45.
The province is also reporting three more deaths.
Premier appeals to people with symptoms to get tested
Asked Tuesday about the relatively low levels of testing in the last 24 hours, Premier Doug Ford said the province’s labs have now cleared through a backlog of tests that once ballooned to more than 90,000 and that there is capacity for as many as 50,000 daily, but that people can’t be forced to be tested.
Ford said the province has set up additional testing units in hotspots, but some people seem to be holding back from getting an assessment.
The province changed its testing guidelines last month, making COVID-19 tests available only to symptomatic people by appointment at its assessment centres.
The change came after the government was heavily criticized for hours-long lineups at walk-in testing centres that assessed people with or without symptoms.
Meanwhile, Ontario is extending most of its emergency orders until Nov. 21 as the province faces a resurgence of COVID-19.
In a news release Tuesday, the provincial government announced the extension will be in place for 30 days with exceptions for orders around pandemic pricing on electricity and electronic access to personal health records.
“With the cold and flu season upon us and the continuing high number of COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the province, it’s critical we continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
Masks not required in dance studios, province says
The province has also updated its pandemic rules to allow dance classes to resume in Ontario’s four hot spot areas.
Asked Tuesday why small fitness studios aren’t allowed to open under the current regulations but dance studios are, Ford drew a distinction between the two saying that unlike fitness studios, dance studios are cohorted.
The province announced this week that dance classes will be allowed to resume in hotspot areas as long as dances are pre-registered and physical distancing is observed.
Masks are not required inside the studios.
Asked why that is, Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters Tuesday, “It’s because of the distance and the separation between the dancers that can be maintained such that the masks aren’t necessarily required.”
Airborne transmission of COVID-19 however has not been ruled out, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updating its guidance this month to say infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets that can linger in the air for minutes to hours.
NDP bring motion to eliminate for-profit LTCs as some face insurance woes
Also Tuesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she would introduce a motion to remove for-profit companies from the long-term care system and replace them with an “all non-profit and public system.”
“We need to take action to protect seniors and fix the long-term care system for good, and we have to do it now,” Horwath said in a tweet.
A vote on the motion is expected this afternoon.
Meanwhile, some of Ontario’s long-term care homes are having trouble securing liability insurance for COVID-19, a situation that could force some of them to close, says a group representing more than 70 per cent of the province’s homes.
The Ontario Long-Term Care Association says its homes are being offered new policies without a key provision: coverage for infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The association has now turned to the federal government for help, saying potential claims could place a burden on the homes’ finances, and that loans could be denied over the lack of coverage.
Previously, long-term care homes received $5-million to $10-million coverage for damages or claims related to infectious diseases, CEO Donna Duncan said.
Now, insurance companies are including a “contagious disease exclusion endorsement” in policies for the homes, she said.
Her association has pleaded its case to the federal government in a letter sent late last week, asking Ottawa to provide a “backstop” and essentially insure the insurance companies.
Ontario to provide COVID-19 liability protection to some workers, businesses
Also Tuesday, Attorney General Doug Downey introduced a new bill that would provide liability protection to some workers, businesses and non-profits against COVID-19 exposure-related lawsuits.
Downey says the bill, if passed, would ensure anyone making an “honest effort” to follow public health guidelines while working or volunteering not be exposed to liability. The bill will not prevent lawsuits against those who willfully, or through “gross negligence”, endanger others, he said.
The government says health-care workers and institutions, front-line retail workers, and charities and non-profits would be covered by the bill.
The legislation would also cover coaches, volunteers and minor sports associations.
Outbreak at CAMH worsens
Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is reporting three more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 on a unit at its Queen Street site.
It follows confirmation Sunday of an outbreak at the unit, when it said two people had COVID-19.
Two other Toronto hospitals also confirmed outbreaks over the weekend.
The centre says it has implemented standard infection prevention and control procedures for respiratory outbreaks, including closing the unit to admissions and transfers.
Ontario changes the rules so dance classes are now allowed again in the COVID hotspots. But Zumba classes (dance style exercise class) are still not allowed. <a href=”https://t.co/WrOdjZp6gV”>pic.twitter.com/WrOdjZp6gV</a>
Ontario reports 1,822 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths – CBC.ca
Ontario reported another 1,822 cases of COVID-19 and 29 more deaths linked to the illness on Saturday.
The new cases include 566 in Toronto, 516 in Peel Region and 145 in York Region. Hamilton and Waterloo saw 105 and 102 additional cases, respectively.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
- Halton: 68.
- Windsor-Essex: 57.
- Durham Region: 48.
- Ottawa: 46.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 25.
- Niagara Region: 21.
- Simcoe Muskoka: 21.
- Middlesex-London: 20.
- Eastern Ontario: 13.
- Huron Perth: 11.
- Grey Bruce: 10.
- Thunder Bay: 10.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)
The newly confirmed infections push the seven-day average up to 1,523, the highest it has been since the outbreak began in late January. The numbers come after the province set a single-day record for new cases on Friday.
There are currently 13,538 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, a number that is also a new record high.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of labs processed 55,086 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.4 per cent. More than 56,000 tests were added to the queue to be completed. Public health officials said recently that they hope to build capacity in the system for up to 100,000 tests daily.
The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness jumped 54, up to 595 — nearly double the number one month ago. Those being treated in intensive care increased by four to 155, while those on ventilators dropped slightly to 99.
The additional deaths in Saturday’s update push the official toll to 3,624. So far this month, 479 people with COVID-19 have died in the province.
5 regions moving into more restrictive zones
The provincial government announced yesterday that five more regions will move into more restrictive zones starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday:
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Lambton Public Health
- Northwestern Health Unit
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
- Ontario reports 1,822 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths.
- Officials say majority of Canadians could be vaccinated by next September.
- Federal government to enlist the military to help with vaccine distribution.
- Manitoba hospital ICUs operating over capacity due to rise in COVID-19 cases.
- Nearly 100 cases of infection reported at Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre.
- Alberta again breaks records for hospitalizations, ICU patients.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca
Ontario added another 1,822 cases of COVID-19 to its total on Saturday, a day after recording its highest single-day count of 1,855.
The province also reported 29 new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus after recording 20 deaths on Friday, when health officials said they had completed just over 58,000 tests — the most the province has ever conducted in one day.
Despite the growing number of cases, a majority of Canadians could be inoculated against COVID-19 by September 2021 “if all goes according to plan,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. It’s important the vaccine reaches all Canadians “no matter where they live,” he said.
Trudeau said as Canada prepares for “the biggest immunization exercise in the country,” it will enlist the help of a former NATO commander to lead the distribution effort.
WATCH | Ottawa outlines its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan:
Trudeau named Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the military’s role in co-ordinating logistics, which include cold storage requirements, data sharing and reaching Indigenous communities.
The prime minister said the federal government has already purchased freezers capable of storing vaccine doses at -70 C.
WATCH | Senior military commander to lead vaccine distribution:
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said as many as six million doses could be deployed in the first three months of 2021. Each patient will need two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which Health Canada says could win approval next month because its review is in the most advanced stage out of the three leading candidates.
Federal officials warned that any timelines are uncertain and emphasized that no vaccine has been approved for use in Canada.
WATCH | Ontario prepares vaccine plan amid record-high new cases:
Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.
Federal data showed that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people.
Friday was the last day of in-school classes for junior and senior high school students across Alberta. Students in grades 7 to 12 are all being shifted to remote learning until Jan. 11, in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The province’s new measures also ban indoor social gatherings, limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, restrict access to some businesses and make masks mandatory at indoor workplaces in Edmonton and Calgary.
Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, said Friday that the province is empowering 700 more peace officers to help enforce COVID-19 public health orders.
Fines for breaking the rules can range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that end up in court, Madu said.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 360,889, with 60,954 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,923.
Manitoba announced 349 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 more deaths, the province’s second-deadliest day of the pandemic to date. Intensive care units across the province are operating at 152 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 capacity. A record high 322 people are in hospital with the illness, including 45 patients in ICUs.
WATCH | Manitoba’s top health official on recent COVID-19 deaths:
Officials overseeing the pandemic response on Manitoba’s First Nations say 630 new cases were identified over the last week alone. Nine new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 36.
The province announced stricter COVID-19 measures last week that prohibit businesses from selling non-essential items in stores and further restricted capacity at large retailers.
I repeat the same message daily. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayHome?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StayHome</a>.<br>This it is the action that matters the most right now. Only go out for essential reasons.
The new public health orders also prohibit people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions.
British Columbia announced a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19.
The latest update also includes a new record of 301 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including 69 in critical care.
Earlier Friday, the Vancouver International Airport announced a pilot project in which volunteer travellers are enlisted to take COVID-19 rapid tests before departing on their domestic flights.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, appealed for people to respect store and restaurant employees as she referred to recent confrontations by aggressive customers who refused to wear masks at indoor public places.
“If you are opposed to wearing a mask, then I ask you to shop online, order takeout or stay outside or stay home and not put other people at risk,” she said.
Eleven more people have died in B.C., bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.
WATCH | New mask mandate in B.C. a point of contention for some:
Prince Edward Island did not reported any new cases on Friday. Starting Monday, masks will be mandatory for staff and students in Grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks, with exemptions made for situations such as eating or drinking.
Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The territory, which saw its first confirmed case earlier this month, has now seen a total of 159 cases.
The Nunavut government said it plans to spend $1 million toward community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic.
The Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Friday. There have been 15 confirmed cases in the territory since the start of the pandemic, all since recovered.
Yukon reported three new cases late Friday for a total of 45 since the pandemic began.
WATCH | Mental health biggest concern in Nunavut lockdown, community food centre exec says:
Saskatchewan reported 329 new cases and four deaths on Friday. Along with 208 recoveries, that brought the number of active cases to 3,263.
The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre now has 99 cases of COVID-19 — 80 offenders and 19 staff.
WATCH | Some First Nations in Alberta now experiencing 1st wave of COVID-19:
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, there were more than 61.7 million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide, with more than 39.5 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.
South Korea reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the third-straight day on Saturday, the fastest spread of infections the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic.
The recent spike in infections came after the government eased physical-distancing restrictions to the lowest levels in October to support a weak economy, allowing high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sports.
Officials reimposed some of the restrictions this week and could be forced to clamp down on economic activities further if transmissions don’t slow.
India‘s coronavirus infections dipped further with 41,322 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, and there were no signs of a resurgence as a result of a major festival two weeks ago.
The high point of new infections this week was 44,739 on Wednesday. Single-day cases have remained below the 50,000-mark for three weeks.
In the United Kingdom, the government is warning lawmakers who oppose strict coronavirus restrictions that the measures are the only way to avoid a surge that will overwhelm the health system.
A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday and will be replaced by three-tier regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces opposition from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s legislators, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits. Some say they will vote against the measures in Parliament on Tuesday.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the measures were “grimly” necessary. Writing in the Times of London, he said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. Gove said a rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.”
Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
What Canadians need to know about COVID-19 before gathering over the holidays – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
Canadians considering gathering with loved ones over the holidays this year need to come to terms with some harsh realities.
But COVID-19 is insidious, an unwanted guest that can slip in unnoticed and wreak havoc despite our best efforts to control it.
“We have to ask ourselves honestly, must we socialize? And the answer is probably no,” said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.
“There is no way to eliminate risk except not to do it in the first place.”
But we’ve learned a lot more about how COVID-19 spreads since it first emerged at the beginning of this year, which can help inform us on where we’re most at risk.
Confusion over holiday guidelines
There’s understandably a lot of confusion about what sorts of holiday gathering might be reasonable to consider this year, especially since depending on where you live in this country the rules and recommendations differ.
The official advice from Canada’s chief public health officer is to avoid large gatherings, non-essential travel and to keep things as small as possible within your household.
Certain provinces, like Ontario, recommend skipping extended family gatherings altogether and taking precautions like self-isolating for 10 to 14 days for those travelling home from away, including colleges and universities.
While others, like Quebec, have put a lot of faith in their population by allowing gatherings of up to 10 people for four days over the holidays after a seven day period of self-imposed quarantine.
But Deonandan says we can’t necessarily rely on people to completely self-isolate on their own — that requires not leaving home for groceries, essential items or even to walk the dog.
WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam advises no large gatherings or non-essential travel
“You’re also going to have outliers who have infectious periods longer than two weeks,” he said.
“If enough people do this, you’re going to get a sufficient number of people who do not fall under that umbrella who are indeed infectious and who start outbreaks.”
Silent spread a ‘key driver’ of outbreaks
While we weigh whether it’s even possible to gather safely with friends and family in a pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind the unseen dangers we could be inviting in — even in parts of the country that have low rates of COVID-19.
“The problem with this virus is that it’s like many other viruses,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, a medical microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital who worked on the front lines of the SARS epidemic in 2003. “You shed virus before you get sick and some people who get infected don’t develop symptoms.”
“That’s why what has worked is everybody wearing masks and everybody maintaining social distance, because you can’t tell who the next infected person is going to be.”
McGeer says viruses like influenza, chickenpox and measles typically present symptoms in the body before people are infectious — but the virus behind COVID-19 is different.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated scientific guidance this week that acknowledged asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals account for more than half of all COVID-19 transmissions.
“Silent transmission is one of the key drivers of outbreaks,” said Seyed Moghadas, a professor of applied mathematics and computational epidemiology at Toronto’s York University.
“There is an incorrect notion in the general population that if someone feels fine then they are not infected. A person can certainly be infected, infectious, and feel completely fine.”
Moghadas, the lead author of a study published in the journal PNAS on the silent spread of COVID-19 that was cited in the CDC guidelines, says this underscores how difficult the virus is to control, a challenge “magnified” in close quarters.
In Nova Scotia, which has successfully contained the spread of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic despite the bursting of the Atlantic bubble this week, catching those silent spreaders before they unknowingly infect others is key.
Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University, has partnered with public health authorities in a pilot project to use rapid COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms in high-traffic areas of Halifax.
It’s only been a few days, but what they’ve found was surprising.
On the first day they tested 147 people and found one asymptomatic case, the second day they tested 604 more and found another one, and on the third day they did 804 tests and found five more.
“We recognized that there are a lot of people out there, even if they’re doing the right thing, that don’t know they’re infected, don’t know they’re infectious and could be spreading to other people,” said Barrett.
“When there’s community spread of a virus that has a long period of time when you can be infectious without symptoms, you have to test broadly in the community or you have no idea what’s going on.”
‘A negative test is not a license to socialize’
One novel approach to avoid meeting with loved ones while unknowingly infectious that has emerged is to get a COVID-19 test beforehand to pre-emptively detect it.
But the timing of that test is incredibly important and there’s a lot of room for error, so it may be a less effective strategy than it first appears.
A new study in the journal Science looked at 1,178 people infected with COVID-19 and more than 15,000 of their close contacts to determine when people were most infectious.
It found most of the transition — 87 per cent — happened in a fairly wide window of time, up to five days before or after symptoms appeared, while 53 per cent was in the pre-symptomatic phase.
“It’s possible to be early in the disease cycle such that you won’t detect any viral presence. But in two days suddenly you’re infectious and now we’re screwed,” said Deonandan, at the University of Ottawa.
“So a negative test is not a license to socialize.”
Still, Deonandan says there will be people who are going to socialize anyway, so it’s better they do so with precautions in place like testing and self-isolating than nothing — even if those precautions aren’t perfect.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, Canadians are being told to consider meeting virtually, avoid risky indoor gatherings without masks and instead find ways to connect while still physical distancing.
“I think the pitch to people is that yes, we’re used to having time off school and we’re used to seeing everybody,” said McGeer. “But this is the year to delay.”
WATCH | Tam on the holiday season and how the pandemic won’t go on forever
“The best advice this year is maybe not to go too far from home,” said Barrett. “Is it worth it to lose control of the virus?”
“We’re hanging on by a thread here. Please don’t let that thread break.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
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