COVID-19 Continues Spreading As Travel Restrictions Come Into Effect

March 30, 2020 Updated: March 30, 2020

OTTAWA—COVID-19 continued its unforgiving march into new areas of the country on Monday, sweeping through long-term care homes and religious communities and into vulnerable regions as the federal government brought in new domestic travel restrictions.

Ontario reported its largest single-day increase by far, while hard-hit Quebec soared well past the 3,000-case mark and Newfoundland and Labrador reported the Atlantic region’s first death.

Tragedy struck one nursing home in Ontario, where seven people have died of COVID-19 and at least 24 staff members are infected, according to a local health unit.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has said the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon is believed to be the largest in the province.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health official, said there have been more cases reported in areas at high risk of “severe outcomes.”

That includes the first case in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, over the weekend, and outbreaks in long-term care facilities, leading to what Tam described as “devastating outcomes.”

“It is crucial to prevent the acceleration of spread in enclosed environments where persons with underlying medical conditions reside,” she said in a news conference on Monday.

In Quebec, a reclusive Orthodox Jewish community north of Montreal was placed under lockdown after around 15 people tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Leadership of the 4,000-person Tosh Jewish community of Boisbriand, Que., asked for police help in enforcing a 14-day quarantine after some members tested positive, ostensibly after travelling to New York two weeks ago.

The regional health director said the number of positive cases is expected to rise in the community, where large families live together and many couples have between six and eight children.

Two inmates also tested positive for COVID-19 at the Port-Cartier maximum-security prison in Quebec, the first confirmed cases involving prisoners in a federal institution.

New restrictions on domestic air and inter-city passenger rail traffic were set to go into effect, requiring staff at airlines and railways to screen passengers and bar those exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 from boarding.

Tam reiterated the need to respect physical distancing measures, and emphasized that all travellers returning from abroad must isolate themselves from others for 14 days.

“Head directly home, do not stop for groceries or other essential supplies,” she said. “Pick up the phone, get online and order what you need, but do not go out in public spaces.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that a wage subsidy unveiled last week would cover all businesses, non-profits, and charities whose revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent because of COVID-19.

He said the government will cover 75 percent of salary on the first $58,700 a person earns, or about $847 a week.

As of 2 p.m. ET there were 7,288 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada, including 71 deaths, and 918 resolved. However, health officials in some provinces such as Quebec have said the number of resolved cases is likely much higher.

Government officials in Quebec and B.C. said over the weekend there are indications social distancing efforts may be paying off in slowing the spread of the CCP virus, but Tam warned it’s still too early to make that call. She has said this week will be “very, very important” in terms of looking at those trends.

On Monday, the weekend optimism was tempered slightly as a number of provinces recorded their highest-ever case increases.

The new total of cases in Ontario rose to 1,706, which health officials attributed at least in part to clearing a backlog of pending test results. There are also 431 resolved cases. While the province reported 23 deaths in its morning update, public health officials later added 10 more.

In Quebec, the number of cases spiked to 3,430, while three new deaths brought the total to 25. Premier Francois Legault said the one encouraging stat was the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, which rose by just six to 78 and remains well below the system’s capacity.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador, which has one of the highest per-capita rates of infection, reported a 78-year-old man with underlying health conditions had died. He is the first COVID-19 related fatality in the province.

The Manitoba government followed other provinces’ lead and closed non-essential businesses on Monday after the province reported 24 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 96 probable and confirmed cases.

Tam said 220,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Canada thus far, with 3 percent confirmed positive, and 93 percent confirmed negative.

She says of the over 6,000 cases so far, 7 percent have required hospitalization, 3 percent are critical, and 1 percent have been fatal.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.