Ontario reports 1,248 COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths on Sunday

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Ontario reports 1,248 COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths on Sunday
Ontario reports 1,248 COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths on Sunday

Ontario reported 1,248 COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths on Sunday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 364 of those cases were found in Toronto, 308 in Peel Region and 125 in York Region.

More than 42,200 tests were completed, she said.

Ontario is also reporting that 1,062 more cases are marked as resolved.

Currently, there are 479 people in hospital. Of those hospitalized, 118 are in intensive care units (ICUs) and 67 are on ventilators.

Lockdown a possibility for Ontario

As cases have sharply risen in the province Ontario may be facing the prospect of another, more strict lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Deaths and hospitalizations have also increased in the province in the last several days. Between Sunday and Saturday, the number of deaths jumped by 45 per cent, according to Ontario's epidemiologic summary.

"We're staring down the barrel of another lockdown," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference on Friday. "And I will not hesitate for a second if we have to go further."

Ford's comments came after new modelling was released Thursday, that showed 6,500 daily new cases are possible by mid-December if no further action is taken.

The modelling also showed intensive care units could become overwhelmed within six weeks, as 118 people are in ICUs as of Sunday.

WATCH | New modelling shows ICUs could be overwhelmed within weeks:

On Friday, Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said how a new lockdown may look in Ontario has not yet been determined. There are several questions around whether a possible lockdown would impact schools or not, as thousands of infections have been reported since the school year began.

Several experts told CBC News this week, that they wouldn't want to see the school system close or hospital services put on pause again. But strategic action needs to be taken soon, they said.

On Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top doctor, issued a statement that the number of people experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 has grown.

She said provincial and territorial data shows that an average of 1,438 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day over the last seven days.

"As hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind increased cases 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," she said.

She explained that influenza and respiratory infections tend to increase during fall and winter, and this will place an increased demand on hospitals.

"This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practices that keep respiratory infection rates low," she said.

7 dead in Scarborough long-term care centre outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care home in Scarborough has resulted in seven deaths while another 136 residents and 66 staff members are infected.

Sienna Senior Living said on its website that the current outbreak at Rockcliffe Care Community, 3015 Lawrence Avenue E., west of McCowan Road, began on Nov. 2. The home has 204 beds. It confirmed the deaths and latest case numbers in an email on Saturday.

"We are grateful to our partners and team members who are working very hard to protect the health of our residents during the second wave of the pandemic. The safety of everyone in our residences is our highest priority as the province experiences unprecedented rates of COVID-19," Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, manager of media relations for Sienna, said in the email.

The home is working with Toronto Public Health, Scarborough Health Network and Sienna's physician experts, Dr. Andrea Moser, chief medical officer, and Dr. Allison McGeer, chief infection prevention and control consultant, to respond to the outbreak, Daniell-Colarossi said.

Measures in place at Rockcliffe to prevent further spread of the virus include droplet and contact precautions throughout the building, requiring that all residents remain in their rooms and only allowing essential visitors into the home.

Confirmation of the deaths comes after Elliott said at a news conference on Friday that Ontario has "significantly invested" in protecting those in long-term care homes and is building an "iron ring" around them.

Over 80 people have died in long-term care over the last week.

According to Elliott, the province is taking steps to ensure there is personal protective equipment for staff in homes, that residents are protected from transmission and testing of staff and residents is done on a regular basis.

Peel to fine businesses that fail to take action against COVID-19 spread

As Peel is moved into the red zone, the region's public health unit said in a press release that it has created new fines that will see businesses charged if they "fail to take necessary action to prevent or stop spread of COVID-19."

The red zone, which is the most strict zone before a total lockdown, now includes a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent and a weekly incidence rate of above 40 per 100,000 people.

In the red zone, gatherings are confined to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Religious services, weddings and funerals are confined to 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Businesses will face a fine of up to $5,000 per day under a Section 22 Order that mandates employers implement protections for workers and cooperate with outbreak investigations when they occur in the workplace.

The order requires employers to not allow workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 to enter the workplace and requires them to instruct their staff to self-isolate if this is the case.

It also requires employers to: ensure infection control measures are in place, including distancing and masks, notify Peel Public Health and the Ministry of Labour if two or more employees have tested positive, and co-operate with directives from both those bodies.

The region notes that while Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act does not compel employers to create paid sick leave, Peel Health "strongly recommends" that businesses do so.