Toronto sees 502 new COVID-19 cases, tighter mask enforcement in residential buildings

·3 min read
Toronto sees 502 new COVID-19 cases, tighter mask enforcement in residential buildings

Toronto is reporting 502 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, according to new city figures — a decrease since the city's last news conference Monday, when it saw 767 cases.

Wednesday's relatively low total reflects a drop in overall cases in the province — the fewest Ontario has seen since late November.

Toronto nevertheless accounts for the highest share of cases in the province.

"[The number of] new cases may seem relatively low at first glance, but testing levels have been lower in the last few days," Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said at a news conference Wednesday.

WATCH | "502 cases is "nothing to celebrate," says Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health.

"I also want to stress that 502 cases is nothing to celebrate," de Villa said.

Another 11 people have died of the virus, and 13 more people are in hospital.

Toronto Public Health is investigating 96 outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes.

Earlier this week, Toronto Public Health warned that a variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in the U.K., called B.1.1.7, had been identified in the city. The mutated virus spreads far more quickly than the original strain, health officials have said.

De Villa said Wednesday that the city has seen 14 cases of the U.K. variant to date.

To protect against the spread of the new variant, de Villa reiterated her advice on how to help curb the spread: stay home, stay vigilant around the measures of self-protection, and avoid contact with those outside your household.

"There's still quite a bit of COVID-19 activity in our community."

In regards to reopening, the city said that conversation is warranted at this point in time, but de Villa still echoed continuing COVID-19 safety measures above all.

"Now is not the time for action beyond really encouraging people as much as possible to continue on with self-protection measures," de Villa said.

Meanwhile, the city said it is looking into how significant the spread of the new variant of concern will be. Staff said the B.1.1.7 variant is "the kind of thing that we need to be very, very concerned about."

This week marked one year since Toronto recorded its first-ever case of COVID-19.

More than 2,000 Torontonians have lost their lives after contracting the virus.

City tightens mask enforcement in residential buildings

Mayor John Tory announced the city is also conducting additional education and enforcement in residential apartment buildings and condominiums where they've received multiple complaints about mask usage in common spaces.

New city data released Wednesday revealed that the city has received 1,950 complaints about improper mask usage in shared residential spaces.

Of those complaints, 263 locations have received three or more and 12 locations have received over 10 complaints related to mask by-laws not being followed.

The city said they will follow up in-person with the landlords and property managers of those 12 locations to examine the masking policy and documentation, ensure signs are posted throughout the building and conduct a follow-up inspection.

Under the bylaw for residential buildings, everyone must wear a mask or face covering while in enclosed common spaces, which include elevators, laundry rooms and lobbies.

If residents see a pattern of issues with mask usage in common areas of their building, they can first talk to their landlord or building manager. If no action is taken, residents should call 311 to submit a complaint to the city for an investigation.