A health-care worker takes people’s details as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, October 4, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Chance to prevent COVID resurgence ‘narrows with each passing day,’ Tam says

Quebec, Ontario continue moving to harsher restrictions in virus hot spots amid surging daily case counts

Canada is running out of time to prevent a major resurgence of COVID-19, the country’s chief public health officer said Saturday as its two most populous provinces continued to report some of their highest daily case counts in months.

The country’s chance to avert a COVID comeback “narrows with each passing day,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

“It is clear that without all of us making hard choices now to reduce our in-person contacts and maintain layers of personal protections at all times, it won’t be enough to prevent a large resurgence,” Tam said.

Her comments came as Quebec and Ontario continued moving toward harsher restrictions in coronavirus hot spots amid surging daily case counts.

Quebec reported 1,107 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday — the largest daily increase since the pandemic began, and the second straight day the province reported more than 1,000 cases.

Ontario reported 653 new cases — down slightly from Friday’s record high of 732, and partially inflated by an ongoing “data cleaning initiative” at Toronto Public Health.

Tam cautioned that the epidemic growth is already stretching local public health and laboratory resources — a warning borne out by a number of developments in Ontario, where a backlog of tests considered “under investigation” has grown to more than 91,000.

Public health officials in Toronto, meanwhile, announced that their case and contact management team is making a “strategic shift” to focus only on the highest-risk scenarios.

That move came as case counts continued to climb in the city, which is one of three Ontario COVID-19 hot spots where new public health restrictions kicked in on Saturday.

The provincial government announced Friday that Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region would face tighter regulations. Restaurants, bars, banquet halls and gyms in those areas will all face restrictions on their operations.

ALSO READ: Feds to soon allow extended family, partners to apply to enter Canada

More restrictions could soon be imposed in hot spots of neighbouring Quebec as well, with the province planning to announce new rules for sporting activities and gyms on Monday.

Authorities already consider greater Montreal, Quebec City and a region south of the provincial capital to be in red alert — the highest pandemic alert level — and have placed those regions under a partial lockdown for 28 days.

“If there was anyone who still needed proof that the situation is critical, we have it day after day,” Premier Francois Legault said Friday.

Elsewhere in the country on Saturday, an outbreak of COVID-19 among almost two dozen staff at a British Columbia food distribution warehouse forced its closure.

The Fraser Health authority said in a statement that 23 employees at Valhalla Distribution in Delta have tested positive for coronavirus.

Public health officials in Manitoba said a woman in her 80s at a personal care home in Winnipeg has died, the third death associated with that outbreak. The death of a man in his 70s connected with the outbreak was announced Friday, and a woman in her 90s died late last month.

And in New Brunswick, public health officials announced a new case in a person in their 20s in the Saint John region.

The case — only New Brunswick’s 201st — is related to travel from outside the so-called Atlantic bubble, and officials say the person is self-isolating.

Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported a new death linked to the virus — only its fourth.

The government said the man in his 60s had travelled from Central Africa, via Toronto, and died while self-isolating in Deer Lake, N.L.

—with files from Canadian Press reporters across the country

Adam Burns, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read