COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario 'heading in the wrong direction' of COVID-19 wave; Manitoba introduces strict rules for private residences

Elisabetta Bianchini
·6 min read

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Ontario headed in the ‘wrong direction’ of curve for COVID-19, officials warn

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Ontario reported 1,210 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 361 new cases in Peel, 346 in Toronto and 143 in York Region.

Another 28 deaths were confirmed in the province, bringing the total to 3,443.

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There are also reports that Critical Care Services Ontario and Ontario Hospital Association have identified that the province has reached 150 people with COVID-19 in ICUs. At this threshold, Ontario’s scheduled surgeries are impacted.

The provincial government is reporting 146 people in ICUs with COVID-19 and at a press conference on Thursday, Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health, indicated that sometimes there are discrepancies between the Critical Care Services data and numbers confirmed by the provincial government.

Currently, 103 long-term care homes have reported outbreaks, including 619 active resident cases and 529 active staff cases.

Ontario also reported 91 new school-related COVID-19 cases, including 75 student cases and 16 staff cases.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, said the test positivity rate is at 4.1 per cent across the province and warned about the continued spread of COVID-19.

“Know that these trends are concerning and overall, we’re heading in the wrong direction,” Dr. Yaffe said. “That feeling of concern and urgency has not diminished...We need to get these numbers down.”

“This challenge is not insurmountable but it is going to be tough.”

Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the provincial outbreak response, confirmed that over the past seven days, 196 more outbreaks were identified. On Thursday, 26 more outbreaks have been confirmed, including seven in the vulnerable sector (long-term care homes, retirement residences, etc.), 11 in schools and daycares, four in publicly accessible areas and four in other workplaces.

Dr. Huyer stressed that outbreaks are closely connected to community spread in a particular area, but outbreaks have occurred across many different health units.

‘Many numbers circulating amongst health officials’ on vaccine allocations in Canada

At a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, saying during question period on Wednesday that 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of the Moderna vaccine are destined for Ontario. Trudeau did not want to confirm or deny these numbers.

“There are many ongoing, preliminary discussions around our plan to rollout vaccines and deliver them across the country,” he said. “We know that there is still uncertainty as to when those vaccines are going to be manufactured.”

“I think there are many numbers circulating amongst health officials as to what the possible deliveries of vaccines could be, but we’re not going to confirm those plans until we have much more certainty around them.”

Trudeau went on to say Canada is still facing “many more months” of following public health guidance, including reducing contacts and wearing a mask.

Manitoba adds restriction to gatherings, retail

Manitoba has announced new restrictions to gatherings, which come into effect on Nov. 20. Beginning on that date, a person cannot enter a private residence if they do not normally live there.

Exceptions can be made for individuals who are:

  • Providing healthcare, personal care or home care services

  • Allowing a parent or guardian to visit a child who does not normally reside with that child

  • Receiving or providing child care

  • Providing tutoring or other educational instruction

  • Performing construction, renovations, repairs or maintenance

  • Delivering items

  • Providing real estate or moving services

  • Responding to an emergency

Anyone in the province who lives alone can interact with one person only, including in a private residence.

The guidance also states that, “a person is permitted to briefly enter onto the exterior portion of a person’s property (for example, to drop off a delivery).”

People in the province also cannot gather in a group of more than five people at any indoor or outdoor public place.

Retail business may stay open but can only sell essential items in person, while complying with the capacity limits of 25 per cent the usual capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower. Non-essential items can be sold over the phone or other remote means, including curb-side pickup. Essential items include food, personal care products like soap, health-related items, household cleaning products, winter apparel, pet supplies and food, cellphones, major appliances, tools and items to perform maintenance on on your home.

“Too many Manitobans are gathering or shopping for non-essential purposes and creating a greater risk to public health,” a statement from Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister reads. “We are now at a point where even tighter restrictions are needed to significantly limit social contact in order to protect one another.”

“The current trend of COVID-19 cases and wide-spread community transmission is unsustainable and causing significant strain on our health-care system,” Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer said. “I can’t stress enough that Manitobans need to stay home in order to protect themselves and their loved ones, and halt the spread of this deadly virus.”

“These new restrictions will help limit social contacts and the opportunity and motivation for Manitobans to leave their homes for non-essential purposes.”

Moncton moves to Orange restriction level in New Brunswick

The Moncton region of New Brunswick will move into the orange restriction level at midnight, due to a doubling of cases in less than six days, outbreaks in vulnerable settings and reports of people not following with public health measures.

“Recent news about a vaccine is promising but it will not be available until next year. In the meantime we need to buy some time and get any outbreaks under control quickly,” a statement from premier Blaine Higgs reads. “Based on advice from Public Health, some changes are being made to our recovery levels which will allow more businesses to keep operating in the Orange level while also encouraging people to reduce the number of their close contacts.”

The Orange level restrictions include having a single household bubble, outdoor gatherings are permitted with up to 25 people at a safe distance, indoor event like religious services, funerals and weddings of more than 25 people are prohibited.

Quebec confirms 34 more COVID-19 deaths

Quebec reported 1,207 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 241 cases in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, 200 in Montreal, 141 in Montérégie and 121 in the Quebec City region.

The province confirmed 34 more COVID-19 deaths, including seven that occurred in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 651 in Quebec hospitals with the virus, including 101 in intensive care.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.