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

Bear sightings have been reported in a residential area in Summerland in late October. The Conservation Officer Service is urging people to take measures so bears are not drawn to the area (Black Press file photo)
Bear sightings reported from Summerland neighbourhood

Conservation Officer Service urges people not to leave garbage outside

Melissa Leveque claims that on June 2, 2020 she spilled hot tea on her lap due to negligence on the part of staff at Penticton’s Riverside Starbucks drive-thru. (Google maps photo)
Woman sues Starbucks over hot tea spill at Penticton drive-thru

Melissa Leveque claims she suffered second degree burns, seeking $35,000

File photo of Kerrilynn Milton from 2013.
Former Downtown Penticton Association head to have trial by jury and judge

Kerrilynn Milton was charged with fraud over $5,000 and falsifying documents

Naramata Slow is almost at its goal of raising $850,000 to save Centre Beach from being sold.
Community goes above and beyond fundraising goal to save Naramata beach

The NaramataSlow’s fundraiser has received $860,000 in donations to their $850,000 goal

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vince Schnabl looks at the view this October from the Gorge, west of Revelstoke. (Photo by Jon Wichett)
There’s 3 times more snow near Revelstoke than usual

According to 54 years of data from Parks Canada for Glacier National Park

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as fake Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

One Peak Creative has made a catapult which allows children to receive candy in a socially distanced fashion. (Onepeakcreative - Instagram)
Kelowna production company creates Halloween catapult

One Peak Creative promoted the product by making a reality TV style video

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

A man was caught on surveillance taking a large outdoor heater from the patio at Intermezzo early morning Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Contributed)
WATCH: Heater theft leaves Okanagan business cold

Patio heater stolen from Intermezzo, found trashed

Most Read