A health-care worker takes people’s details as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, October 4, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A health-care worker takes people’s details as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, October 4, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Chance to prevent COVID resurgence ‘narrows with each passing day,’ Tam says

Quebec, Ontario continue moving to harsher restrictions in virus hot spots amid surging daily case counts

Canada is running out of time to prevent a major resurgence of COVID-19, the country’s chief public health officer said Saturday as its two most populous provinces continued to report some of their highest daily case counts in months.

The country’s chance to avert a COVID comeback “narrows with each passing day,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

“It is clear that without all of us making hard choices now to reduce our in-person contacts and maintain layers of personal protections at all times, it won’t be enough to prevent a large resurgence,” Tam said.

Her comments came as Quebec and Ontario continued moving toward harsher restrictions in coronavirus hot spots amid surging daily case counts.

Quebec reported 1,107 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday — the largest daily increase since the pandemic began, and the second straight day the province reported more than 1,000 cases.

Ontario reported 653 new cases — down slightly from Friday’s record high of 732, and partially inflated by an ongoing “data cleaning initiative” at Toronto Public Health.

Tam cautioned that the epidemic growth is already stretching local public health and laboratory resources — a warning borne out by a number of developments in Ontario, where a backlog of tests considered “under investigation” has grown to more than 91,000.

Public health officials in Toronto, meanwhile, announced that their case and contact management team is making a “strategic shift” to focus only on the highest-risk scenarios.

That move came as case counts continued to climb in the city, which is one of three Ontario COVID-19 hot spots where new public health restrictions kicked in on Saturday.

The provincial government announced Friday that Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region would face tighter regulations. Restaurants, bars, banquet halls and gyms in those areas will all face restrictions on their operations.

ALSO READ: Feds to soon allow extended family, partners to apply to enter Canada

More restrictions could soon be imposed in hot spots of neighbouring Quebec as well, with the province planning to announce new rules for sporting activities and gyms on Monday.

Authorities already consider greater Montreal, Quebec City and a region south of the provincial capital to be in red alert — the highest pandemic alert level — and have placed those regions under a partial lockdown for 28 days.

“If there was anyone who still needed proof that the situation is critical, we have it day after day,” Premier Francois Legault said Friday.

Elsewhere in the country on Saturday, an outbreak of COVID-19 among almost two dozen staff at a British Columbia food distribution warehouse forced its closure.

The Fraser Health authority said in a statement that 23 employees at Valhalla Distribution in Delta have tested positive for coronavirus.

Public health officials in Manitoba said a woman in her 80s at a personal care home in Winnipeg has died, the third death associated with that outbreak. The death of a man in his 70s connected with the outbreak was announced Friday, and a woman in her 90s died late last month.

And in New Brunswick, public health officials announced a new case in a person in their 20s in the Saint John region.

The case — only New Brunswick’s 201st — is related to travel from outside the so-called Atlantic bubble, and officials say the person is self-isolating.

Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported a new death linked to the virus — only its fourth.

The government said the man in his 60s had travelled from Central Africa, via Toronto, and died while self-isolating in Deer Lake, N.L.

—with files from Canadian Press reporters across the country

Adam Burns, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson kneels as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED: Vancouver Island paddle boarder’s orca encounter brings joy and outrage

Woman’s ‘best day’ criticized for disturbing the whales

Tofino’s library is currently located in the basement of the Tofino Legion building but talks are underway to build a brand new facility. (Andrew Bailey photo)
The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Most Read