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Ontario reports record high 3,328 new COVID-19 cases, 56 new deaths – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported a single-day record of 3,328 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 56 new deaths related to the illness. 

The figure marks the first time the province has reported more than 3,000 cases in a single day, and the third consecutive day Ontario has recorded a record-breaking case count.

A record number of patients were also hospitalized and admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) on Thursday. Currently, there are 1,235 patients in hospital. Of those, 337 are in intensive care.

Forty-five patients were admitted to Ontario ICUs on Wednesday, another record during the pandemic.

The number of ICU patients being treated for COVID-19 has doubled since the last day of November, when hospitals were treating 168 patients.

Residents of long-term care homes accounted for 28 of the newly tallied deaths. There are now active COVID-19 outbreaks in 187 LTC facilities, a decrease of five since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of labs processed 63,858 test samples for the novel coronavirus while another 72,283 tests are in the queue waiting to be completed.

The province’s test positivity rate now sits at 5.7 per cent.

Of Thursday’s newly confirmed infections, there were 888 in Toronto, 431 in Peel Region, 418 in York Region, 257 in Windsor-Essex, and 194 in Ottawa. 

Ontario’s cumulative case count now sits at 182,159. The province’s seven-day average has also reached a new record-high, climbing to 2,436.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Hamilton: 156 
  • Waterloo: 127
  • Durham: 114
  • London: 112
  • Niagara: 110
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 83
  • Southwestern: 79
  • Halton: 79
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 58
  • Eastern Ontario: 58
  • Brant County: 26
  • Lambton: 25
  • Huron Perth: 19
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington: 13
  • Haldimand-Norfolk: 12
  • Chatham-Kent: 12
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark: 10

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’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.]  

ICUs nearing capacity, hospitals say

Ontario hospitals continue to warn that intensive care units are reaching maximum capacity and threatening to overwhelm the wider health-care system.  

In a statement to CBC Toronto on Wednesday, Anthony Dale, CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association said the situation grows “ever more serious by the day.” 

“Do not celebrate the holidays with people outside your own household. It would be the ultimate tragedy if the worst consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic happened just as vaccines arrived on Canadian soil,” Dale said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott is also urging people to celebrate New Year’s Eve only with people in their own households. 

 

LTC residents receive first shots of Moderna vaccine

A small number of Ontario long-term care (LTC) residents were the first people in Ontario to be inoculated with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A shipment of approximately 50,000 doses arrived in Ontario Wednesday. A select number of long-term care homes are participating in a pilot project that aims to iron out logistical challenges as the province begins rolling out the vaccine.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Ontario received earlier this month, the Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, making it more suitable for transportation to LTC facilities.

Ontario has now administered 23,502 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Both vaccines it has in stock require two doses to achieve maximum protection from the virus.

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Inside Canada's largest COVID-19 outbreak in a federal prison – CBC.ca

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During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex Doyle was doing his best to follow public health orders and keep himself and his young family free of infection.

But last November, Doyle ended up back in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Institution north of Winnipeg after violating parole conditions for a drug trafficking and break and enter conviction. 

And that’s where he may have inadvertently become a superspreader in Canada’s worst outbreak so far in a federal penitentiary.

Doyle’s story, and the experiences of other Stony Mountain inmates who became infected, is part of the testimony being gathered in a class-action lawsuit against the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) on behalf of federal prisoners across the country.

“The whole range, everyone was mad at me like it’s my fault and it wasn’t my fault,” Doyle, 33, said recently in a series of telephone interviews with CBC News.

Alex Doyle, right, seen in an undated photo from inside Stony Mountain Institution. Doyle says he became infected with COVID-19 in prison and then may have inadvertently passed it on to other inmates because he was moved and wasn’t tested immediately after developing symptoms. (Supplied by Jade Doyle)

Doyle arrived at Stony Mountain on Nov. 6. He was segregated in an isolation cell known by inmates as the hole. 

He was tested for COVID-19 nearly a week later and when it came back negative, he was moved to another area of the prison where he said one of the inmates had already tested positive for COVID-19. 

The first inmate at Stony Mountain tested positive on Nov. 10. Four days later, public health officials declared an outbreak.

Inmates were locked down. They were allowed only 30 minutes out of their cells each day — just enough time for a quick shower and maybe a call home, if the lineups weren’t too long.

On Nov. 20, when his 14-day quarantine was up, Doyle said he was moved to yet another medium security unit. Despite having a cough, he wasn’t immediately tested for COVID-19, he said. It was a Friday and Doyle said he was told he would have to wait until Monday. 

During that weekend, Doyle said he socialized with other inmates during the 30 minutes they were allowed outside of their cells. They were all wearing masks, but in close quarters.

“I thought I was good because [penitentiary staff] cleared me to come here and, you know, I was talking to my friends and stuff. That’s probably how it got passed around,” he said.

Two days later, Doyle said his test came back positive. But by then, he said, he may have directly infected at least three people, and they, in turn, infected others.

Les Bisson says he believes COVID-19 spread in Stony Mountain Institution after an infected inmate was moved to his unit. He says the prison was negligent in its duty to care for prisoners. (Supplied by Acacia Bisson)

Les Bisson is one of the men who claimed to have developed symptoms within days. He started coughing up blood and had problems breathing, he said. His COVID-19 test on Dec. 2 came back positive.

“I literally thought I was going to die a month ago. I sat there, looking at pictures, thinking how I’ll never be able to be a father to my kids again,” Bisson, 40, said with a break in his voice. He is serving eight years for drug trafficking. 

“We thought that was just on our range. Now, I know that that’s happened on at least two of the ranges.… If it was once, it would be an accident. But to do something over and over and over again, you can’t say that’s an accident.”

‘I feel like they failed miserably’

At its worst, nearly half of the 744 inmates at Stony Mountain had COVID-19, making it the largest outbreak at any federally run correctional facility in Canada.

In December, an inmate died of COVID-19 complications, one of four deaths so far in prisons across the country.

CBC News spoke with eight inmates over the past several weeks who said they believe the outbreak may have been caused by Stony Mountain relaxing the 14-day quarantine rules for new inmates and not testing frequently enough.

“I feel like they failed miserably. Our range was green, which means no COVID, and they moved a COVID-positive inmate to our range,” said 30-year-old Grayson Wesley, who is serving an eight-year sentence for unlawful confinement.

Wesley said he was infected at the end of November and sent to hospital because he couldn’t breathe. He still has trouble with his memory and worries about getting sick again, he said.

“There’s a new COVID variant out there. If that comes into the jail, it’s going to spread like wildfire,” he said.

Mike Bourget also started feeling symptoms shortly after Doyle arrived on his unit, but said he wasn’t tested for three days. When the results came back, he was positive.

“My symptoms were not that bad, not compared to my fellow inmates here…. It is more of the mental aspect right now,” said Bourget, who is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. “My emotions and anxiety is like a roller-coaster.”

Inmates at Stony Mountain Institution say they were locked down for 23.5 hours a day to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the outbreak continued. (Justin Fraser/CBC News)

No officials at Stony Mountain were available for an interview, but a spokesperson for the CSC said inmates and staff are tested regularly, even those who are asymptomatic.

“All inmates at Stony Mountain Institution were tested as they left isolation cells and before they were moved to a different range,” Kelly Dae Dash wrote in an email to CBC News.

“All inmates that tested positive for COVID-19 were immediately moved to a separate area of the institution which operated under single cell movement and was specifically designated for COVID-19 cases.”

Throughout the outbreak, inmates have also had wellness checks by health services staff.

Oldest prison in Canada

Part of the challenge in containing the virus is the age and layout of the institution. Of the four federal prisons built in the 19th century, Stony Mountain is the only one still operating.

Unlike newer facilities where a door with a tiny window separates an inmate from the hallway, most cells at Stony Mountain have only bars opening into a long hallway. It makes physical distancing difficult and there is constant air flow between cells.

Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert is of the same vintage and layout, and has had similar problems with COVID-19. There have been 247 cases and one death, although there are currently only seven active cases. 

Bronson Gordon is currently serving time at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert. In a recent phone call shared with CBC News, he detailed how conditions at the federal facility worsened for inmates since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in early December. (Supplied by Sherri Maier)

Inmates in SaskPen’s medium security units say they were putting blankets on the bars of their cells, but the correctional officers removed them.

“They’ve ripped down all of our curtains and everything that would protect us from the airborne virus from the guys out there … sick on the unit,” Bronson Gordon, 36, said in a phone call several weeks ago with prisoner advocate Sherri Maier, who shared a recording of the conversation with CBC News in Saskatchewan. Gordon is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.

He said they asked the guard how long they’d have to live under such conditions, without access to mental health services or elders. 

“But he was just like, ‘All you guys are going to be locked down 23½ hours for a … long time, because until you guys have no COVID-19 on the unit, this unit is going to be run like this,'” Gordon told Maier.

Gordon was recently sent to a maximum security unit after a confrontation with a guard. He said conditions there are significantly better because it’s a newer part of the prison and cells have doors with windows instead of bars.

The CSC said it is looking into Gordon’s allegations.

Class-action lawsuit alleges negligence

Inmates at federal institutions including Stony Mountain and SaskPen are now preparing written statements for a class-action lawsuit launched initially on behalf of an inmate at Mission Institution east of Vancouver.

That lawsuit has since expanded to include the whole country except for Quebec, which operates under a different civil law system. A certification hearing is scheduled in Vancouver for January 2022.

“Prisoners who are known to have COVID are put with prisoners who don’t have COVID. That’s by definition negligent,” said Jeffrey Hartman, one of the lawyers involved in the suit.

Lawyer Jeffrey Hartman is part of a legal group launching a class-action lawsuit on behalf of federal prisoners in Canada. The suit alleges the federal government has failed in its duty to protect inmates from COVID-19. (Hartman Law)

Hartman says there is no question the federal government has failed in its duty to protect inmates despite having adequate time to prepare for the second wave.

Those systemic failures resulted in loss of life, widespread illness and unprecedented restrictions of inmates’ rights, he said.

A similar class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of inmates at Joliette Institution for Women north of Montreal. There are also two lawsuits launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society, alleging the federal government violated prisoners’ charter rights by locking them down for so long as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

None of the allegations in any of the lawsuits has been proven in court.  

Lockdown lifted

Meanwhile, range representatives from Stony Mountain’s inmate welfare committee said they were called to a meeting last week with senior prison management.

They were told that with no active COVID-19 cases right now, some of the lockdown restrictions are being lifted.

“The point of the meeting wasn’t to apologize,” said Mulata Ibrahim, 35, a unit rep who is serving a seven-year sentence for drug trafficking. “It was that they’re trying to move forward and saying, ‘What can we do now to make it easier for you guys?'”

After the meeting, inmates started receiving food three times a day instead of just two, and many were able to go outside for the first time in months, Ibrahim said.

In a statement, the CSC said it has put in place extensive infection prevention and control measures in its 43 institutions.

They include:

  • Mandatory mask-wearing for inmates and staff. 
  • Physical distancing measures. 
  • Active health screening of anyone entering institutions. 
  • Increased and enhanced cleaning and disinfection at sites. 
  • Training 250 employees to conduct contact tracing.
  • Carrying out significant testing among inmates and staff, including asymptomatic individuals.

The CSC has also completed its first phase of 600 COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes an unknown number of older, medically vulnerable inmates at Stony Mountain.

The department had no comment on the class-action lawsuits.

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Canada adds 4,630 new coronavirus cases as global infections near 100M – Global News

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Canada added 4,630 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 753,011.

To date, the novel coronavirus has claimed 19,238 lives in Canada, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Ontario and Quebec.

Read more:
Coronavirus tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 in Canada today?

However, over 671,000 Canadians have recovered after falling ill, and more than 21.3 million tests for COVID-19 have been administered.

In a series of tweets Monday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Minister Dr. Theresa Tam said while daily case counts are “trending down nationally, continuing concerns including the emergence of more transmissible virus variants, warn us that trends can change all too quickly.”

Story continues below advertisement

Tam warned that the risk of re-acceleration of the COVID-19 virus is “ever present.”

She urged the public to continue abiding by measures in place to stem the spread of the virus, including limiting their number of contacts, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.


Click to play video 'Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16'



2:25
Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16


Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16

Tam’s comments come as the vaccine rollout continues across the country.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Health Canada, as of Thursday, a total of 1,119,225 doses of the two vaccines approved to protect against COVID-19 had been distributed across the country.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Of those, 839,949 doses have been administered, representing approximately 1.1 per cent of Canada’s total population.

New cases in the provinces

Ontario added 1,958 new cases and 43 more deaths on Monday. To date, the province has seen 256,960 infections and 5,846 fatalities.

In Quebec, 1,203 more cases were detected and health officials said 43 more people have died after testing positive for the virus.

The new cases bring Quebec’s total case load to 254,836 while the new fatalities push the death toll to 9,521.

Meanwhile, 240 new cases were detected in Saskatchewan, while 113 new COVID-19 infections were reported in Manitoba.

Five more people have died in Manitoba after testing positive for the virus, health officials said, while Saskatchewan said one more resident has died.

Read more:
Moderna vaccine approved: What we know about side effects, ingredients and doses

In Atlantic Canada, 27 more cases were reported, all in New Brunswick.

Story continues below advertisement

The new infections push the province’s total case load to 1,151, however, health officials said no one else has died.

Neither Nova Scotia nor Newfoundland and Labrador saw a new case or death on Monday.

Prince Edward Island did not release any new COVID-19 data, however, the latest data released on Tuesday said 103 of the province’s 110 cases are considered to be recovered.

In Western Canada, 1,088 more cases were reported.

Alberta added 742 new infections, for a total of 121,535.

Twenty-five new deaths mean that, so far, 1,574 people have died in Alberta after testing positive for COVID-19.


Click to play video 'Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?'



3:43
Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?


Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?

Meanwhile, health authorities in British Columbia said 346 more people have contracted the virus, pushing the total number of infections to 64,828.

Story continues below advertisement

Officials also confirmed 26 additional fatalities have occurred since Friday, meaning the province has now seen a total of 1,154 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

Two new cases in Nunavut bring the total number of infections in the territory to 282, however health authorities say 264 of those cases are recovered.

No new cases or fatalities were reported in the Yukon or Northwest Territories.

Global cases near 100 million

The total number of cases around the world neared 100 million on Monday.

By 8:30 p.m. ET, there were a total of 99,655,985 cases globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, it has claimed 2,138,251 lives.

The United States remained the viral epicentre on Monday with 25,261,902 COVID-19 infections and more than 420,000 fatalities to date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada adds 4,630 new coronavirus cases as global infections near 100M – Global News

Published

 on


Canada added 4,630 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 753,011.

To date, the novel coronavirus has claimed 19,238 lives in Canada, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Ontario and Quebec.

Read more:
Coronavirus tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 in Canada today?

However, over 671,000 Canadians have recovered after falling ill, and more than 21.3 million tests for COVID-19 have been administered.

In a series of tweets Monday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Minister Dr. Theresa Tam said while daily case counts are “trending down nationally, continuing concerns including the emergence of more transmissible virus variants, warn us that trends can change all too quickly.”

Story continues below advertisement

Tam warned that the risk of re-acceleration of the COVID-19 virus is “ever present.”

She urged the public to continue abiding by measures in place to stem the spread of the virus, including limiting their number of contacts, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.


Click to play video 'Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16'



2:25
Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16


Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16

Tam’s comments come as the vaccine rollout continues across the country.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Health Canada, as of Thursday, a total of 1,119,225 doses of the two vaccines approved to protect against COVID-19 had been distributed across the country.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Of those, 839,949 doses have been administered, representing approximately 1.1 per cent of Canada’s total population.

New cases in the provinces

Ontario added 1,958 new cases and 43 more deaths on Monday. To date, the province has seen 256,960 infections and 5,846 fatalities.

In Quebec, 1,203 more cases were detected and health officials said 43 more people have died after testing positive for the virus.

The new cases bring Quebec’s total case load to 254,836 while the new fatalities push the death toll to 9,521.

Meanwhile, 240 new cases were detected in Saskatchewan, while 113 new COVID-19 infections were reported in Manitoba.

Five more people have died in Manitoba after testing positive for the virus, health officials said, while Saskatchewan said one more resident has died.

Read more:
Moderna vaccine approved: What we know about side effects, ingredients and doses

In Atlantic Canada, 27 more cases were reported, all in New Brunswick.

Story continues below advertisement

The new infections push the province’s total case load to 1,151, however, health officials said no one else has died.

Neither Nova Scotia nor Newfoundland and Labrador saw a new case or death on Monday.

Prince Edward Island did not release any new COVID-19 data, however, the latest data released on Tuesday said 103 of the province’s 110 cases are considered to be recovered.

In Western Canada, 1,088 more cases were reported.

Alberta added 742 new infections, for a total of 121,535.

Twenty-five new deaths mean that, so far, 1,574 people have died in Alberta after testing positive for COVID-19.


Click to play video 'Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?'



3:43
Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?


Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?

Meanwhile, health authorities in British Columbia said 346 more people have contracted the virus, pushing the total number of infections to 64,828.

Story continues below advertisement

Officials also confirmed 26 additional fatalities have occurred since Friday, meaning the province has now seen a total of 1,154 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

Two new cases in Nunavut bring the total number of infections in the territory to 282, however health authorities say 264 of those cases are recovered.

No new cases or fatalities were reported in the Yukon or Northwest Territories.

Global cases near 100 million

The total number of cases around the world neared 100 million on Monday.

By 8:30 p.m. ET, there were a total of 99,655,985 cases globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, it has claimed 2,138,251 lives.

The United States remained the viral epicentre on Monday with 25,261,902 COVID-19 infections and more than 420,000 fatalities to date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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