Ontario reported 851 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, including 281 in Toronto, 215 in Peel, 90 in York Region and 76 in Ottawa.
Six additional deaths were also logged by the province, bringing Ontario’s pandemic death toll to 3,099 – nearly 2,000 of which were among long-term care residents.
There are now at least 295 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province (numerous hospitals didn’t submit data over the weekend), including 78 in ICU and 51 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce today whether Ontario will impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions on two Toronto-area regions.
Ford said Friday that the experts would look at the caseload in Halton and Durham regions over the weekend to determine whether they need to roll back to a modified Stage 2 of the province’s pandemic recovery plan.
Both Saturday and Sunday saw Ontario break its record for the highest daily tally of new COVID-19 cases, with 978 and 1,042 new cases reported, respectively.
A spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott said Sunday the government will “take swift action as needed” to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“It takes approximately two weeks for public health measures to show their full impact on the rates of COVID-19 transmission and other key criteria in communities,” Alexandra Hilkene said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation in the coming days.
“While (Sunday’s) data is concerning, the increase in cases may be the result of Thanksgiving gatherings. We continue to urge all Ontarians to do their part and not let their guard down by continuing to limit close contact and practice the public health measures that we know work and keep us safe.”
The Ottawa Hospital is building a temporary 40-bed unit in a parking lot beside the Civic campus to reduce overcrowding that has reached critical levels during the pandemic.
The temporary unit is a sign of the impact COVID-19 is having on both hospitals and long-term care homes in Ottawa.
“We need this capacity while we get through COVID and some of the impacts it has had,” said hospital president and CEO Cameron Love. Preliminary work on the temporary building is already underway. It is expected to open by the end of the year and will be in place for at least a year or two, said Love.
“Definitely, until COVID is fully (finished).”
In the public health unit regions surrounding Ottawa, the COVID-19 case total grew by four in Eastern Ontario, two in Renfrew County and District, and one in both Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington and Leeds, Grenville & Lanark.
A coalition of about 200 Quebec gym, yoga, dance studio and martial arts business owners say they intend to reopen their doors on Thursday in defiance of provincial health restrictions. The businesses are calling on Quebec Premier Francois Legault to lift COVID-19 restrictions that were imposed on fitness facilities Oct. 8.
The owners say they will back down if health authorities can demonstrate by Thursday that their operations have led to outbreaks.
Meanwhile, Quebec reported 808 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths linked to the virus. Two of those deaths were in the past 24 hours, while six were from last week and the two others were from an unknown date.
The number of hospitalizations dropped by eight from a day earlier to 543, and the number of patients in intensive care cases decreased by four to 93.
Canada’s procurement minister says federal contracts for personal protective equipment, vaccines and rapid test kits are in jeopardy due to a proposed parliamentary probe of the Trudeau government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anita Anand says the probe could trigger the release of commercially sensitive information, scaring off manufacturers and drug companies that would otherwise do business with Ottawa and ultimately placing Canadians’ health at risk.
Anand warns that the House of Commons law clerk does not have the expertise in procurement to properly redact records that would surface through the probe.
Opposition parties are poised to approve the probe this afternoon despite growing objections from industry and experts.
A Conservative motion would order the government to turn over to the Commons health committee all records on a raft of issues related to the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Canada is the latest to express concerns, asking to know how its commercial secrets will be protected.
-With files from Postmedia and The Canadian Press