Covid-19 Rapid Test Device kits at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Tam urges collective effort, Ontarians told to celebrate holidays at home

Tam urges collective effort, Ontarians told to celebrate holidays at home

The country’s chief public health officer urged Canadians Wednesday to avoid non-essential outings, as cases continued to rise across the country and Ontario became the latest province to announce scaled-back holiday plans.

Dr. Theresa Tam warned that a growing number of people are experiencing severe cases of COVID-19, putting a strain on health-care services and forcing hospitals to cancel surgeries. She said it’s safest to limit outings and avoid socializing with people beyond one’s household.

Recent record-breaking numbers have prompted many provinces to implement new restrictions and partial lockdowns. Tam said that while it’s too early to measure the impact of such measures, public participation will be vital to their success.

“This is why as public health authorities implement measures to interrupt spread, Canadians are being called upon,” she said in a statement.

“It is safest for all of us to limit errands and outings to just the essentials, limit in-person activities to just our existing household members and keep up with key prevention practices,” she said, referring to handwashing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.

Ontarians on Wednesday were asked to restrict Christmas gatherings to members of their households, as the province became the latest to unveil guidelines for the holidays.

Premier Doug Ford said Ontarians should celebrate only with people they live with, adding that those who live alone can join one other family. “This year isn’t like any other,” he said. “We’re in the second wave of COVID-19, and we can’t take any chances.”

Ford’s approach is similar to that taken by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who told his province on Tuesday to plan for a Christmas without group gatherings.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, however, has taken a different tack, allowing people to gather in groups of up to 10, between Dec. 24 and 27 — as long as they quarantine for a week before and after. He said Tuesday that people should only gather two times over the four-day grace period.

Quebec reported 1,100 new infections Wednesday and 28 COVID-related deaths, while Ontario recorded 1,373 new cases and 35 more deaths.

Earlier Wednesday, Ontario’s auditor general released a report criticizing the province’s response to COVID-19, describing it as slower and more reactive than that of other provinces.

Bonnie Lysyk cited problems such as confused decision-making, outdated provincial emergency plans and a cumbersome command structure.

Ford took issue with some of the claims in the report, particularly the finding that the province’s chief medical officer of health did not play a leading role in the government’s response.

The premier said Dr. David Williams had guided Ontario’s response “from day one” and insisted the province had based all its decisions on advice from its health team.

In Manitoba, where 349 cases were reported Wednesday, health officials said there were signs that strict restrictions on gatherings and store openings brought in over the past weeks have been working.

Chief public health officer Brent Roussin said new cases have been relatively stable in recent days, in contrast with earlier projections that warned the province could have reached up to 800 cases a day by now.

Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases, as people and businesses in the Halifax region braced for stricter measures coming into effect on Thursday that include closing restaurant dining rooms, libraries, museums, gyms, yoga studios and casinos for at least two weeks.

Saskatchewan, which reported 164 cases, announced it was suspending group sports and making masks mandatory for indoor fitness activities in an attempt to contain the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.

— With files from Paola Loriggio in Toronto, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg and Keith Doucette in Halifax.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

People lineup at a hotel for the homeless before the 8 p.m. COVID-19 curfew on Jan. 11, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Legault nixes call for COVID-19 curfew exemption, saying it could used to avoid fines

Legault nixes call for COVID-19 curfew exemption, saying it could used to avoid fines

The body of 25-year-old Kyler Corriveau was discovered near Red Deer on Sunday. He was missing since Dec. 15. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Contrinuted photo).
RCMP are investigating the death of missing Red Deer man as a homicide

The body of Kyler Corriveau was discovered on Sunday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 456 new cases of COVID-19 over Tuesday afternoon. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

Community Futures Central Alberta, in partnership with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN), is behind the SMARTstart initiative for budding entrepreneurs.
New program aimed at helping entrepreneurs succeed

Program offers mentorship, business advice and networking opportunities

A Red Deer man, who has been declared a dangerous offender, lost his appeal of an aggravated assault conviction from 2017. Advocate file photo
Red Deer man who chomped on remand centre inmate’s ear loses aggravated assault appeal

Inmate lost part of his ear in attack at Red Deer Remand Centre in August 2017

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

FILE - John Mulaney arrives at night one of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. A file obtained by The Associated Press shows the U.S. Secret Service investigated John Mulaney, but found no wrongdoing in a joke the comedian made on “Saturday Night Live” in February 2020. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
File details investigation into John Mulaney ‘SNL’ monologue

File details investigation into John Mulaney ‘SNL’ monologue

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, file photo, Tom Hanks arrives at the People's Choice Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
From Gaga to Garth, Miranda to Moreno: Celebs join inaugural

Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like… Continue reading

A Honduran migrant poses for a photo at a road block manned by Guatemalan soldiers and police, on the highway in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. Some migrants threw rocks while authorities launched tear gas and pushed the migrants with their riot shields back down the highway. (AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian)
Large migrant caravan dissolves in Guatemala

Large migrant caravan dissolves in Guatemala

FILE - In this May 2, 2020, file photo, Erika Bermudez becomes emotional as she leans over the grave of her mother, Eudiana Smith, at Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City, N.J., Bermudez was not allowed to approach the gravesite until cemetery workers had buried her mother, who died of COVID-19. Other members of the family and friends stayed in their cars. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
‘Shameful’: US virus deaths top 400K as Trump leaves office

‘Shameful’: US virus deaths top 400K as Trump leaves office

Riot shields are stacked at the ready as National Guard troops reinforce the security zone on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
2 Guard members made extremist statements about inauguration

2 Guard members made extremist statements about inauguration

In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks from the Senate floor to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Now that the House has impeached President Donald Trump for the second time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must figure out the best strategy for arguing the case before the Senate. Senate rules say the trial must start soon after the chamber receives the article of impeachment, which cites “incitement of insurrection” after an angry mob of Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol last week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
McConnell: Trump ‘provoked’ Capitol siege, mob was fed lies

McConnell: Trump ‘provoked’ Capitol siege, mob was fed lies

Biden marks nation’s Covid grief before inauguration pomp

Biden marks nation’s Covid grief before inauguration pomp

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

Most Read