COVID-19 in Canada: Canada crosses 200,000 cases, Toronto's COVID-19 hot spots revealed in infections map

Elisabetta Bianchini
·12 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.

New COVID-19 data for Toronto neighbourhoods

The City of Toronto have made two additional maps available online, which show the percent positivity and testing rates by neighbourhood.

The Rustic neighbourhood in Toronto, north of Lawrence Ave. W to Hwy. 401 between Jane St. and Culford Rd., has the highest percent positivity at 14.3 per cent the week of Sept. 27. This neighbourhood’s testing rate was among some of the lowest in the city that week at 13.7 tests per 1,000 people. By comparison, Toronto’s affluent Bridle Path - Sunnybrook - York Mills neighbourhood had a testing rate of 22.9 test per 1,000 people in the same week.

For the week of Oct. 4, the Brookhaven - Amesbury neighbourhood had the highest percent positivity at 12 per cent, with a testing rate of 11.7 per 1,000 people.

Other neighbourhoods with higher test positivity are also in the northwestern area of the city.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said these numbers are not as meaningful in isolation but support her recommendation to increase COVID-19 testing in high-transmission neighbourhoods, increase infection prevention and control support in certain areas, put a stay on residential evictions and implement paid sick leave for all workers.

“These are things that matter in so many respects,” Dr. de Villa said at a press conference on Monday. “I think we can all agree that a city fuller with healthy people is better for us than a city dragged down by the cost of preventable illness.”

Could Halton be the next region in Ontario to move into modified Stage 2 restrictions?

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, indicated at a press conference on Monday that the province is “very closely monitoring” various regions to see if they need to move to modified Stage 2 restrictions, like Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and York Region.

The areas provincial health experts are looking at are Halton, Hamilton and Eastern Ontario.

“Overall, while the number of outbreaks continues to go up in the modified Stage 2 regions, they continue to be observed more frequently in the adjacent areas,” Dr. Yaffe said.

She said there isn’t a particular numerical “threshold” that needs to be met to move a region into a modified Stage 2 but the public health measures table looks at the trends in cases, cases per 100,000 population, the positivity rate in lab reports, the capacity of the local public health unit and local health system.

“They look at a bunch of those factors together,” Dr. Yaffe said. “At this point, I know that Halton is one of the areas being very closely watched and we’ll wait to see what’s recommended.

‘COVID sucks,’ Ontario premier says

At a press conference on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford pleaded for protesters to not go to his personal residence but to protest at Queen’s Park instead of “scaring” the kids in his neighbourhood.

“My street is packed with little kids and when protesters show up at 10 in the morning every Saturday, the kids don’t go out and play,” Ford said. “My neighbours, they’re frustrated.”

“They didn’t sign up for this, I signed up for it, I signed up to be the premier. Just come down to Queen’s Park.”

When pressed about adding restrictions to restaurants in the province, Ford had a simple message, “COVID sucks.”

“It’s just a terrible, terrible thing and it’s not fair to any single person,” the premier said, adding that the province is helping restaurants with “everything they possibly can.”

Ford went on to confirm he and finance minister Rod Phillips “gave back” $10,000 of their MPP salaries to support Ontarians who are struggling financially.

CASES AND OUTBREAKS

Canada has officially exceeded 200,000 COVID-19 cases across the country, with the majority of cases in Quebec and Ontario.

Back in June, Canada reached 100,000 cases, after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the country at the end of January.

In a statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, warned that as the number of cases continues to rise, the number of people suffering severe illness is also increasing, with an average of 893 people with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals during the most recent seven-day period.

“As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity,” the statement reads. “Our primary goal for the pandemic response remains to minimise severe illness and deaths due to COVID-19.”

Three Toronto hospitals report COVID-19 outbreak

Three Toronto hospitals are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks as confirmed cases in the city continue to rise.

UHN has confirmed that as of Oct. 16, three staff member and five patients have been affected at Toronto Western Hospital.

St. Joseph’s Health Centre has reported an outbreak at four different units. There are 17 patients with the virus in the hospital and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has also declared an outbreak, with two patients testing positive for COVID-19 on one unit of the facility.

Quebec, Ontario continue to see high daily case numbers

Quebec reported 1,038 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday after hitting its peak at 1,098 cases reported a day earlier. Of the cases reported Monday, 272 are in the Quebec City region, 193 are in Montreal and 174 are in Montérégie.

There are currently 532 people in hospitals in the province with the infection and two new deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, with three additional deaths reported Monday from unknown dates.

Meanwhile in Ontario, 704 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported across the province, and four new deaths. Of the newly reported cases, 244 are in Toronto, 168 are in Peel, 103 are in the York Region and 51 are in Ottawa.

The province has reported 252 people in hospital, but about 30 hospitals did not submit data to the Daily Bed Census for Oct. 17.

There are currently 86 long-term care homes in the province with COVID-19 outbreaks. Ontario has 74 new school-related COVID-19 cases. A total of 483 schools have COVID-19 cases and four institutions are closed.

Ontario ‘plateauing’ in case counts

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the province is seeing a “plateauing” of cases.

“What I like to see is that number going down,” he said. “Decrease the community transmission...that’s what we need to do.”

“It is a virus, it moves along wide population groups, many variables playing in here...Everybody just keep doing what you need to do because collectively we did it once, we can do it again.”

Two new deaths in Manitoba linked to care home

Manitoba confirmed two more COVID-19 deaths in the province, a female in her 80s and a male in his 70s, both linked to the Heritage Lodge care home outbreak in Winnipeg. There were 80 new cases reported in the province as a whole, with 51 in the Winnipeg region.

The province also announced Dakota Medical Centre in Winnipeg will be the first community clinic to introduce COVID-19 testing, through a partnership with the Manitoba government and Doctors Manitoba.

Beginning on Tuesday, the province will begin an appointment-based scheduling system for COVID-19 tests at three locations in Winnipeg.

Monday marked the beginning of the new restrictions in the Winnipeg region for at least two weeks. At a press conference Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief medical officer of health, said how long these restrictions will last will be dependant on the number of cases in the region during this period of time.

Canada-U.S. border restrictions extended

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, announced Monday the non-essential travel restrictions between the Canada-U.S. border will remain until Nov. 21.

“Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Blair’s tweet reads.

Traditional trick-or-treating not recommended in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, issued a statement on Monday indicating that “traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended” in cities in modified Stage 2 restrictions - Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region.

In the statement, Dr. Williams states this is due to the “high transmission” of COVID-19 in these areas. At a press conference, the chief medical officer of health reiterated that it’s the level of community transmission that requires “extra caution” in these regions.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends “alternative” ways to celebrate Halloween in these regions, which include:

  • Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties

  • Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household

  • Carving pumpkins

  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories

  • Decorating front lawns

“It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place,” the statement reads. “It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.”

At a press conference on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he is not “cancelling” Halloween in these areas but “just don’t go trick-or-treating.”

“I hate doing this, Halloween is important to the kids,” Ford said. “I’m just following the health advice...Toronto doesn’t want it, Peel doesn’t it, York doesn’t want it, Ottawa doesn’t want it.”

“If we did let people go out and all of a sudden numbers spiked up, guess what, you’d be blaming this guy saying ‘why would you ever let those kids go out door-to-door and their were seniors answering the doors, have you lost your mind.’”

The premier indicated the medical advice he’s received from the provincial health team is that there are particular concerns about kids putting their hands in a basket of candy after touching their face, mouth and nose.

“They around in groups of eight or nine, sometimes smaller, every time they finish they get together in a huddle, they share stuff...back and forth,” Dr. Williams said. “There’s a lot of chatter and close contact, and sometimes with adults too at the same time.”

In order to have a “safe and happy Halloween” in Ontario, Dr. Williams stressed that Ontarios need to avoid gathering with people outside of their household, stay home if feeling at all ill.

For people living outside of the modified Stage 2 regions, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health outlined a number of rules to follow for trick-or-treating.

  • Only go out with members of your household

  • Only trick or treat outside

  • Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering and a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering but also should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe

  • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting

  • Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects

  • Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer

  • Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or similar tools to hand out treats

The premier said Ontarians all need to work together now, including adapting Halloween celebrations, in order to protect the holiday season.

New Brunswick health officials ‘very concerned’ about Campbellton region

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, announced Monday that the Moncton area will be able to move back into the Yellow level of recovery on Oct. 22, unless there is a significant spike in cases or unlinked transmission reported over the coming days.

Meanwhile, the province remains “very concerned” about the Campbellton region, currently in the Orange level of recovery, because the existing public health measures in place “haven’t worked at containing the outbreak.”

“We are seeing continued transmission in the community and we are seeing that people are not following public health directions,” Dr. Russell said.

The province’s chief medical officer of health explained that some people in the Campbellton region have not been wearing masks and are not practicing physical distancing, primarily in workplace settings and social gatherings. Dr. Russell is urging everyone in the region to limit social contacts to a two family bubble.

She went on to stress to the public that COVID-19 is “very prevalent” outside of New Brunswick, particularly in Ontario and Quebec where the numbers are “very high” and officials have “fallen behind on their ability to stay on top of contact tracing.”

New Brunswick reported three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, all in the Campbellton region. There has also been a possible school exposure identified at la Mosaïque du Nord school in Balmoral with the school closing on Monday “to facilitate necessary contact tracing.”

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