SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories

Ontario reports record COVID-19 cases as more politicians cop to foreign travel

The COVID-19 fallout from the festive season continues to emerge, with several provinces reporting spikes in infections as more jet-setting politicians are taken to task for flouting public health warnings discouraging non-essential travel.

Ontario reported an all-time high of 3,363 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, beating the previous single-day record of 3,328 cases set during the province’s last report on Thursday.

The province also reported 2,476 diagnoses from New Year’s Day, for a total of 5,839 new infections in 2021. But officials say that tally may be off after a data problem led to under-reporting in Toronto.

The province also logged 95 more deaths in the past two days, according to officials. There are 1,003 hospitalizations in Ontario, with 322 patients in intensive care units, and 220 people on ventilators.

Meanwhile, Rod Phillips’ resignation from his role as Ontario’s finance minister Thursday over a controversy surrounding his Caribbean vacation has set off a cascade of revelations about political officials’ foreign getaways.

Two more members of Alberta’s legislature have joined the growing cohort of lawmakers who have admitted to travelling abroad while their constituents were urged to stay home for the holidays.

A spokeswoman for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Jeremy Nixon and Tanya Fir, both representing Calgary-area ridings, took trips to the U.S. in recent weeks.

Christine Myatt said in an email Saturday that Nixon is cutting his trip to Hawaii short and will return home on the “earliest available flight.”

Fir has posted an apology on Facebook on Friday after returning from a vacation to the U.S. to visit her sister.

The disclosures came as Alberta’s chief medical officer of health tweeted Saturday that there were an estimated 900 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the province on New Year’s Day.

Kenney said Friday he was aware of several legislature members and senior officials who had holidayed outside the country, including his own chief of staff and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard.

He issued a new directive ordering members of his United Conservative caucus to not leave Canada unless it’s for government business, but said those who previously travelled wouldn’t be punished.

The federal NDP wasn’t quite forgiving to Manitoba member of Parliament Niki Ashton, who was stripped of her cabinet critic positions after travelling to Greece to visit her ill grandmother.

Dr. Maria Sundaram, a Toronto-based epidemiologist at the health-care research agency ICES, said while she normally doesn’t endorse shaming people as a public health strategy, she believes politicians must be held to a higher standard, because their actions set an example for the public they serve.

“There are some leaders out there who are really practicing what they preach and that is really reassuring and really motivating,” Sundaram said.

“Unfortunately, there are others who haven’t quite adhered to the policies that they’ve espoused for others and that really damages trust and it really damages our ability to keep going.”

Manitoba officials reported 11 deaths from COVID-19 over the past two days, and said 326 new cases of the virus have been identified since Thursday morning.

The province said the five-day test positivity rate is 10.4 per cent. There are 239 patients with active COVID-19 in Manitoba hospitals, 36 of whom are in intensive care.

Two Atlantic provinces, meanwhile, reported double-digit increases in COVID-19 cases.

Health authorities in New Brunswick said there were 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Saturday.

In Nova Scotia, officials said there were 13 new COVID-19 infections, with 11 confirmed on New Year’s Day and two confirmed Saturday.

Five of the new cases have been linked to a private school in the Halifax area, where two cases have previously been identified.

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

Just Posted

Police have charged two men after they allegedly tried to break into the Bentley post office with a semi. (Photo courtesy of RCMP)
Red Deer men charged in Bentley post office destruction

Police have charged a pair of Red Deer men after an attempted… Continue reading

Red Deer Fire Chief Ken McMullen remains concerned about “inconsistencies” in the province’s new way of dispatching local ambulances. (Advocate file photo).
A few glitches are already noticed in Red Deer’s new ambulance dispatch system

Local fire-medics need more data about ambulance arrival times

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Cervus Equipment is planning to set up a new location near Highways 2 and 42 in Red Deer County. Graphic contributed
Cervus Equipment eyeing new Red Deer County location

Farm equipment busy looking to set up near Highways 2 and 42

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Toronto Six down Boston Pride 2-1 for first NWHL victory in franchise history

Toronto Six down Boston Pride 2-1 for first NWHL victory in franchise history

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Copp (9) celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Nikolaj Ehlers leads the way, Jets storm back to beat Oilers 6-4

Nikolaj Ehlers leads the way, Jets storm back to beat Oilers 6-4

‘Stories the numbers tell’: Critics ask why Alberta sat on coal contamination data

‘Stories the numbers tell’: Critics ask why Alberta sat on coal contamination data

This undated photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, in Florida, shows Joshua Colon. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, officials said that Colon, who had been recently named “Paramedic of the Year,” helped a supervisor steal COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders. (Polk County Sheriff's Office via AP)
‘Paramedic of the Year’ accused of helping to steal vaccine

‘Paramedic of the Year’ accused of helping to steal vaccine

FILE - In this July 31, 2019, file photo, migrants return to Mexico, using the Puerta Mexico bridge that crosses the Rio Grande river in Matamoros, Mexico, on the border with Brownsville, Texas. A federal judge on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel, File)
Judge bars Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban

Judge bars Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2021, file photo, registered Nurse Shyun Lin, left, administers Alda Maxis, 70, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in the William Reid Apartments in the Brooklyn borough of New York. An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are canceling appointments because of vaccine shortages in a rollout so rife with confusion and unexplained bottlenecks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File)
US boosting vaccine deliveries amid complaints of shortages

US boosting vaccine deliveries amid complaints of shortages

In this image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial

GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial

People make their way through floodwaters in Beira Mozambique, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. The Mozambican port city of Beira breathed a sigh of relief as Cyclone Eloise caused less damage than feared as it passed through, but the danger of flooding remained in a region still recovering from a devastating cyclone two years ago. (AP Photo)
UN: 250,000 people affected by Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique

UN: 250,000 people affected by Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique

Most Read