- Ontario cracks down further on social gatherings as 407 new cases are reported.
- Chief medical officer of health points to ‘indicator of accelerated epidemic growth.’
- Conservative leader tests positive for COVID-19; Quebec premier self-isolating.
Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam has urged Canadians to “redouble their efforts” to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus after the country reported an average of 779 new cases daily during the week, more than double the level in July.
“The ongoing increase in the national daily case counts is an indicator of accelerated epidemic growth. This situation increases the likelihood that we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels,” Tam said on Friday.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Saturday blamed the number of rising cases on people who think they can “carry on as if things are back to normal” and announced his government is lowering the allowable size of private social gatherings in every region of the province, effective immediately, after more than 400 cases of COVID-19 were added to the province’s total for the second consecutive day.
The province had lowered the number of people permitted at social gatherings in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa on Thursday, but it extended the order on Saturday, when 407 new cases were reported — the highest daily case count since June 7 — following 401 new cases on Friday and 293 on Thursday.
WATCH | Provinces plan targeted measures after infections double in Canada:
The rule will be enforced with possible fines of $10,000 for the organizers of illegal parties and $750 for an individual attending parties with more than 10 people gathering indoors, down from the previous limit of 25. The number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings has been dropped from 100 to 25.
“Folks, the alarm bells are ringing, and too much of it is being tied to people who aren’t following the rules,” Ford said in announcing the new order, while noting there were around just 80 new cases reported in Ontario three weeks ago.
Among other provinces reporting new cases on Friday, the highest counts were in Quebec, with 297 newly reported infections, British Columbia with 139 and Alberta with 107.
Quebec, meanwhile, has announced a blitz to enforce COVID-19-related public health rules, which will send officers to 1,000 bars and restaurants across the province over the weekend. Pandemic rules prohibit food and alcohol from being served after midnight. Physical distancing must also be maintained between tables, while dancing and karaoke are not permitted.
“We have to use every tool and every gesture at our disposal to avoid a second wave in Quebec,” Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told reporters in Quebec City as the police operation was announced Friday.
Figures released this month from the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicate that 19.4 per cent of those who tested positive for COVID-19 were health-care workers.
The numbers cover up to late July and are almost double the 10 per cent figure gathered by the World Health Organization for health-care workers infected worldwide.
Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, said governments in Canada weren’t prepared for the virus, although research as early as March showed it was possible the virus could be airborne.
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 6,489,802 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w\ an average ~2.1% positive overall, for a rate of 172,650 people tested per million population in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo”>https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo</a>
Silas said her federation has launched an investigation into why Canada didn’t better protect its health-care workers.
As of 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 142,763 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 124,184 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,250.
What’s happening around the rest of Canada
Two federal party leaders have now tested positive for COVID-19, and one premier may have been exposed.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and his wife, Nancy Déziel, have both tested positive and are in isolation until the end of September, the party confirmed on Friday. It was also announced on Friday that federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole had a COVID-19 test come back positive and he is now isolating.
Quebec Premier François Legault and O’Toole met one-on-one last Monday in Montreal for the federal Conservative leader’s first official visit to a sitting premier. Legault said he will be getting a test for COVID-19 and self-isolate.
M. O’Toole ayant testé positif à la COVID-19, je vais, par précaution, passer un test de dépistage et m’isoler à la maison. <br><br>Personne n’est à l’abri de la contagion. Faites attention à vous.
In Manitoba, the province said Saturday in a news release that there are 18 new cases, 13 of which are in the Winnipeg health region.
Additionally, a possible exposure was announced at another Winnipeg school. A person with COVID-19 was at Gordon Bell High School at 3 Borrowman Pl. on Thursday morning and afternoon, the release says.
Earlier on Saturday, a spokesperson for Brian Pallister said the Manitoba premier is watching for symptoms of COVID-19 after meeting with Quebec’s premier.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 30.5 million. More than 952,000 people have died, while 20.8 million have recovered.
In Asia, India has maintained its surge in coronavirus cases, adding 93,337 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours. India has been reporting the highest single-day rise in the world every day for more than five weeks. It’s expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States.
In Europe, police in the British capital clashed with protesters on Saturday at a rally against coronavirus restrictions, even as London’s mayor warned that it was “increasingly likely” that the city would soon need to introduce tighter rules to curb a sharp rise in infections.
In Africa, Morocco signed a deal with Russia’s R-Pharm to buy a COVID-19 vaccine produced under a licence from Britain’s AstraZeneca, the Health Ministry said. The country’s total number of cases is approaching 100,000.
In the Americas, the University of Colorado has forced some students to move out of their dorms to create more isolation housing for students with coronavirus infections as case numbers continue to increase at the Boulder campus. The announcement came as the university reported 130 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 671 cases since classes began about a month ago.