A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba look to ramp up restrictions as COVID caseload nears 200K

Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba look to ramp up restrictions as COVID caseload nears 200K

Several provinces are looking to ramp up COVID-19 restrictions as new hotspots crop up across the map, pushing Canada’s caseload closer to the 200,000 mark.

Canada’s chief public health officer says the national count has climbed by an average of 2,300 cases per day over the past seven days, while an average of 20 people per day die from the illness.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 193,622 confirmed cases in Canada, and 9,721 deaths.

Ontario tightened restrictions on long-term care homes in three hotspots Friday, as the premier also made the reluctant decision to reinstate stricter rules on a fourth region north of Toronto.

Premier Doug Ford said the York Region will revert back to a modified stage 2 of the province’s pandemic plan in an effort to curb an “alarming” surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We’re seeing a rapid increase in the rate of infection, with the positivity rate of 2.77 per cent, above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent,” Ford said of York.

“Most concerning of all, critical care admissions are reaching alarming levels.”

The move is set to take effect Monday and will remain in place for the region for 28 days. New strictures include a ban on indoor service at restaurants, the closure of gyms and movie theatres, and caps on public gatherings of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is assessing the situation in the Halton Region to see if similar measures are merited.

Ontario reported 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as well as nine new deaths related to the virus.

The majority of the province’s cases are concentrated in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. As of Friday, residents of long-term care homes in those regions are not allowed to leave for social or personal reasons.

The Manitoba government is also scaling up its restrictions on the Winnipeg area amid growing concern about community spread.

The two-week mandate, which comes into force Monday, prohibits gatherings of more than five people, shuts down beverage rooms and casinos, and restricts restaurants, lounges and retail stores to half-capacity.

Manitoba health authorities reported 75 new COVID-19 cases on Friday — a fraction of Thursday’s record increase of 173 new cases in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s public health institute urged Quebecers to shrink their social circles even further as the province reported another 1,055 new COVID-19 cases and one new virus-related death.

A report released Friday found that Quebec may have dodged a public health disaster by rolling out lockdown measures across much of the province earlier this month.

But the institute’s forecasts suggest the regulations in these “red-zone” regions, which include Montreal and Quebec City, can only go so far to stem the spread of the virus.

Quebecers will also have to reduce their contacts with others by 25 per cent to bring the uptick in cases under control, according to the report.

The Listuguj First Nation, which is near the province’s New Brunswick border, also announced it was shutting down most government operations after reporting its first COVID-19 case.

Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19, while the Northwest Territories says three people have received presumptive positive test results for the virus.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting three new confirmed cases of COVID-19, all related to travel.

As hospitals admit a weekly average of 870 patients per day, Dr. Theresa Tam urged Canadians to do their part to reduce the burden on the health-care system by getting their flu shot as the seasonal virus converges with the second wave of the pandemic.

While the flu shot doesn’t protect against the virus that causes COVID-19, Tam said getting vaccinated reduces one’s risk of back-to-back or simultaneous infections that can lead to more severe health outcomes.

“Our best bet to keep everyone safer is to layer on all the protections we have available,” Tam said at a news conference Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that the federal government is prepared to step in to ensure provincial authorities are protecting older Canadians from the outbreaks that ravaged long-term homes in several regions last spring.

While some provinces handled the crisis better than others, Trudeau said the pandemic has laid bare chronic gaps in the long-term care system, and all levels of government share a responsibility to fix them.

“We’ve seen that those institutions haven’t done a good enough job in this pandemic,” he said. “To not take the moment of this crisis to reflect on how we can improve outcomes for everyone would be completely irresponsible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Two inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press File Photo)
2 Bowden inmates test positive for COVID-19

A pair of inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19.… Continue reading

Salons and barbershops are able to open on Monday, the Government of Alberta announced this week. (Photo courtesy Pixabay)
Red Deer salon owner “relieved” business can re-open next week

The owner of a Red Deer salon says she’s “definitely relieved” her… Continue reading

Red Deer Valhalla Pure Outfitters owner Darren Schaedeli has seen a significant increase in those looking to tackle winter experiences. Some are trying their hand at "hot tent camping" as he did in the West Country several weeks ago.
Photo contributed
Central Albertans enjoying the great outdoors this winter

Stir crazy and beach-deprived central Albertans are embracing the great outdoors this… Continue reading

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Updated: Jason Kenney kicks Lesser Slave Lake MLA out of caucus

Pat Rehn will not be permitted to run for UCP nominations

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

OTTAWA — British Columbia’s decision to seek legal advice on limiting travel… Continue reading

FILE - Joanne Rogers stands in front of a giant Mister Rogers Forever Stamp following the first-day-of-issue dedication in Pittsburgh on March 23, 2018. Rogers, the widow of Fred Rogers, the gentle TV host who entertained and educated generations of preschoolers on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” has died. She was 92. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Joanne Rogers, widow of TV’s famed Mister Rogers, dies at 92

Joanne Rogers, an an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the… Continue reading

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
In mandate letter, PM tells Freeland to spend on temporary measures until crisis ends

OTTAWA — Emergency spending to deal with the COVID-19 crisis must not… Continue reading

President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Biden’s aid plan could revamp economy, prompt GOP resistance

BALTIMORE — The $1.9 trillion rescue plan unveiled by President-elect Joe Biden… Continue reading

The Cogeco logo is seen in Montreal on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Cogeco reports first-quarter profit and revenue up from year ago mark

Cogeco Inc. reported its first-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago… Continue reading

Regina Pats defenceman Libor Hajek (3) fights for control of the puck with WHL Swift Current Broncos forward Tanner Nagel (25) during third period Memorial Cup action in Regina on Wednesday, May, 23, 2018. Western Hockey League teams need at least 50 per cent of their fans in their arenas next season in order to operate, according to the league commissioner. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Saskatchewan gives $4M to junior hockey after extending ban on team sports

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is giving $4 million to help junior… Continue reading

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief medical officer of health says British Columbia’s decision… Continue reading

Most Read