The steady rise of coronavirus cases in Ontario — an uptick largely fuelled by the province’s most-populated areas — is cause for concern among provincial officials, and could lead to targeted measures aimed at curbing further growth in cases even as the province has already hit the pause button on further relaxing pandemic restrictions.
On Monday, Ontario reported 313 new COVID-19 cases, as the average number of daily infections in the province has doubled over the stretch of just three weeks. The province’s daily count had exceeded 200 on each of the previous three days, something that hadn’t happened since early June.
Ontario is reporting 313 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> as nearly 30,000 tests were completed. 78% of today’s cases are from three regions, with 112 in Toronto, 71 in Peel and 60 in Ottawa. All other PHUs have fewer than 10 new cases, except for York with 13 cases. 15 PHUs have no new cases.
As of 10:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 136,972 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 120,564 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,211.
The trend in Ontario is worrisome, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, said in an interview with CBC News.
“I thought that we were going to see this rise in cases a little bit later,” Bogoch said Sunday. “But it’s real and it’s happening now and it certainly is concerning. We certainly want to make sure that this doesn’t continue to grow.”
Many are also worried that the reopening of schools will compound the issue of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) warning parents that some of its elementary classes will likely exceed size caps set out in its reopening plan.
The TDSB said it does not yet know how many of its classes will exceed those caps, since final registration numbers are still in flux with the new school year set to begin Tuesday.
“We are getting to those caps as best we can. The difficulty is, though, since we’ve received the student registration information, the numbers keep changing,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.
The TDSB approved a plan in late August to reduce class sizes in elementary schools with a particular focus on areas deemed by Toronto Public Health to be at higher risk of COVID-19.
Meanwhile in London, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) declared a community outbreak after five Western University students tested positive for COVID-19.
Three of the cases were confirmed Saturday and two Sunday, according to a news release issued by the MLHU. It said the cases are related and will be added to the city’s case count on Monday.
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While the infected students have not attended classes or activities on campus, they have been to downtown bars and restaurants, and socialized with students in neighbouring housing units, the health unit said. It expects there to be more cases in the coming days.
On Friday, during his most recent news conference, Ford described the trend as an “uptick” limited to the most densely populated urban areas of Ontario.
“Where we are seeing an uptick is a couple regions,” Ford said. “It’s not the City of Toronto or the Peel Region’s fault. This is happening. We’ve got to work together.”
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A senior provincial official told CBC News that there is “a growing sense of concern” in the government and among public health leaders over the rise in Ontario’s COVID-19 numbers. If the trend continues, the official said the province would consider measures targeted at the specific locations and activities that are contributing to the infection rate.
Last Monday, the province announced a four-week pause on any further relaxing of pandemic restrictions. Yet case numbers have since risen, even though classes have yet to resume for the roughly 500,000 students in the public and Catholic school boards of Toronto and Peel.
What’s happening around the rest of Canada
Manitoba public health officials are warning of possible COVID-19 exposures at two Winnipeg schools.
A person who was asymptomatic went to Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in the West End on Wednesday in the morning and Thursday in the afternoon, according to a release from the province issued on Sunday.
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Meanwhile, another person went to John Pritchard School in North Kildonan all day Tuesday through Thursday also while asymptomatic. Neither of the two people are believed to have caught the virus at school.
Both schools confirm they’ll be open for classes Monday.
Quebec saw its highest number of new cases since the beginning of June over the weekend, with 279 cases reported Sunday and 244 cases Saturday.
The number of deaths remained low, with just one additional death yesterday.
Cases in Quebec’s Lower Saint Lawrence region also continued to the climb over the weekend, after public health authorities linked dozens of cases to recent house parties.
The union representing British Columbia teachers is urging the province to close schools on Monday citing the combined threat of wildfire smoke, which is affecting air quality, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Twitter post Sunday night, the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) said it wants the province and other health officials to step in and keep teachers and students at home.
The combination of COVID19 pandemic and extremely poor wildfire air quality is deeply concerning for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/bced?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#bced</a>. Teachers and students should not be in crowded classes with no ventilation or fresh air. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BCpoli</a>, the employers, <a href=”https://twitter.com/CDCofBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CDCofBC</a> and PHO need to provide advice and take action now
For many B.C. students, Monday is set to be the first full day of instruction. Last week, many schools provided orientation sessions to advise students how the year will proceed amid the ongoing threat of the pandemic.
Educators worked to put in place protocols such as staggered start times, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing rules to keep schools safe.
A COVID-19 outbreak was declared Sunday at a public high school in west Edmonton after a second person tested positive.
Alberta Health Services has advised the school that an additional 53 Grade 10 students and two staff members at Ross Sheppard High School need to be tested and will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
The first case at Ross Sheppard was confirmed by Alberta Health Services on Sept. 8. Three classes of Grade 10 students and their teachers — close to 100 people — were placed in quarantine at home for 14 days after someone in the group tested positive.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 28.3 million. More than 912,000 people have died, while 19 million have recovered.
India reopened its parliament after more than five months Monday even as the country continues to report the most daily new infections of the coronavirus in the world and daily virus deaths remain above 1,000.
Lawmakers must wear masks and follow other sanitization protocols, sit on seats separated by transparent plastic sheets and keep their meetings limited.
Question Hour, when lawmakers ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries, will not be allowed.
New Zealand will keep its virus restrictions in place for at least another week as the country continues to battle a small outbreak that began in Auckland last month.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the country had taken a cautious approach to the virus from the beginning, which had helped save lives and allowed the economy to reopen in a sustained way.
Ardern said New Zealand will continue its strategy of trying to eliminate the virus.
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Experts in the Philippines described a decision to cut the physical distancing minimum to 30 centimetres on public transport as dangerous and premature on Monday.
Reducing gaps between passengers incrementally to a third of the one metre minimum could backfire, experts and medical professionals warned, and prolong a first wave of infections that the Philippines has been battling since March.
The new rules took effect on Monday, when the country reported 259 new confirmed deaths, a record for the second time in three days. Total fatalities increased to 4,630, while infections have doubled in the past 35 days to 265,888, Southeast Asia’s highest number.
Berlin’s top health official has expressed concern about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Germany, particularly among young people.
Dilek Kalayci told public broadcaster RBB that experience showed young people could easily become “super spreaders,” resulting in older, more vulnerable people becoming sick with COVID-19, too.
Germany’s disease control centre on Monday reported 927 new cases across the country in the past day.
Romania reopened schools for 2.8 million children on Monday after a six-month closure to fight a coronavirus outbreak, ordering pupils to wear face masks as infections rise.
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With 104,000 cases, and new infections jumping above 1,000 a day since July, millions of teachers, students and parents face a tough challenge to adapt after months of online teaching at home.
The spike has been among Europe’s fastest, together with Spain, France, Malta and Croatia, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said on Monday that we need to fundamentally rethink our relationship with the elderly after huge losses to COVID-19 in nursing homes across the world “robbed us of a generation of wisdom.”
In a speech about the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic at the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan urged countries to see elder care as a “rights issue.”
“We need to fundamentally rethink the relationship we have with older generations and the way in which we provide care for that generation,” said Ryan. “We need to see the needs of our older generation as a rights issue — the right to be cared for, the right to social contact.”
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