Ontario Hits Record COVID-19 Cases Amid Pressure to Tighten Public Health Measures

Ontario Hits Record COVID-19 Cases Amid Pressure to Tighten Public Health Measures
Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds a press conference with his medical team regarding new restrictions at Queen's Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Oct. 2, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
The Canadian Press

TORONTO—Quebec and Ontario’s surging COVID-19 epidemic showed no signs of slowing Friday as each province reached staggering daily counts, with Quebec announcing 1,052 new cases and Ontario reporting a record 732 infections.

Quebec health officials said 357 cases were reported in Montreal, 183 in the region around Quebec City and 112 in Monteregie, south-west of Montreal—areas under a partial lockdown as five million Quebecers enter the weekend with strict new rules that practically ban all parties and socializing.

Ontario, meanwhile, faced increased pressure to restrict non-essential activities as daily infections reached a new high, 323 of them in Toronto, 141 in Ottawa, and 111 cases in Peel Region.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario demanded bars, gyms and places of worship close to help reduce community spread, also suggesting that restaurants be prevented from allowing indoor table service.

“Anything we can do to limit gatherings of people within confined spaces will help stave off further spread of this virus and prevent illness and deaths,” association CEO Doris Grinspun said in a release.

There are now 162,326 confirmed cases in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam for a briefing Friday in Ottawa.

Trudeau kicked off the conference offering best wishes to U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady, who tested positive for COVID-19.

The bombshell development shook Washington, raising questions about Trump’s ability to campaign in the critical leadup to next month’s U.S. election, as well as the apparent lack of precautions taken by White House staff.

The Prime Minister also went into isolation earlier this year when Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for the novel coronavirus in March after returning from a trip to England. She recovered within weeks.

An update Friday was also expected from Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who ordered a 28-day lockdown to limit COVID-19 spread and has enlisted police in enforcing new public health rules that can result in $1,000 fines for those who don’t comply.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was also set to address the escalating pandemic in his province, where officials have resisted calls to follow Quebec’s harder line.

Quebec’s total number of confirmed cases to 76,273 while Ontario has seen a total of 52,980 COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Health Canada said Friday it’s begun evaluating a vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The agency said a “rolling review” will examine data from the company’s trials as it comes in, rather than when they are complete.

The federal government has already put in an advance order for 20 million doses, in the event the proposed vaccine proves safe and effective.

By Cassandra Szklarski