Ontario sees 805 new COVID-19 cases as long-term care facilities in the York area face tighter restrictions

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Ontario is reporting 10 new deaths and 805 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, marking six consecutive days of more than 700 daily cases recorded in the province.

Toronto saw nearly half of Saturday’s new cases, with 374 cases recorded in the city. A further 107 were reported in Peel Region, along with 93 in York Region and 70 in Ottawa.

The new cases mark a rebound from Friday when 712 new cases were reported.

The Ministry of Health attributes part of that increase to an upload error, which it says has since been corrected. It says today’s numbers include Toronto Public Health cases that should have been recorded in yesterday’s census.

Saturday’s new figures come as Ontario announced tougher restrictions on long-term care homes in the York area on Monday, to match the restrictions already in place in homes in the Toronto, Ottawa and Peel regions.

Those precautions include:

  • Limit visitors to only essential visitors, including healthcare providers.
  • Interruption of short and temporary absences for social or personal reasons. Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons are allowed.

“We recognize that these restrictions will be introduced just a week after we announced new measures for the City of Toronto, the Peel Region and the City of Ottawa,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, in a press release Saturday.

“We also know we need to act quickly to address changing circumstances to protect residents and staff in Ontario long-term care homes.”

A full list of the affected homes can be found here.

Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Sinai Health in Toronto, said that as a result of these new restrictions, the next concern will be to ensure that residents’ mental health and well-being are given top priority.

While he said it was an important step to restrict certain activities in and outside the homes, the new policy is “quite blunt.”

Friends and relatives of residents of Extendicare Guildwood, Toronto, June 12. Ontario announced tougher restrictions on long-term care homes in the York area on Monday, in line with restrictions already in place in homes in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region. (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

“Is this so blunt that we are going to limit individuals in the basic needs they need to maintain their mental and physical well-being during this pandemic?” he said.

Stall applauded the regional approach to restrictions on long-term care homes, but said the province should “be careful” in adopting policies that restrict outings within a vulnerable population.

“There is a big difference between going to a social gathering … and contrasting that with walking outside.”

York Region to move to the modified phase 2

The new restrictions come a day after Ontario announced tougher health measures for the entire York region in an effort to limit what the province calls an “alarming” increase in COVID-19 cases in that area.

Prime Minister Doug Ford said the region will be moved back to an amended phase 2 of the county’s pandemic plan, which bans indoor dining in restaurants, closes gyms and movie theaters, and limits public gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

The tightened measures come into effect on Monday and are valid for 28 days.

“I hate to do this,” Ford said on Friday announcing the restrictions. “We just have to stop the spread.”

The announcement comes a week after Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were placed under similar restrictions amid rising cases.

Most regions moved to Phase 2 in June, which imposed restrictions on non-essential businesses, and progressed to Phase 3 in July, though a few moved more slowly through the phases.

Almost all businesses and public spaces were allowed to reopen in phase 3, with health measures.

Elliott said Friday that there has recently been an “alarming upward trend” in cases in the York area, and there is evidence of the spread of the community that requires more vigorous public health intervention. You can watch her comments in the video below:

York Region moving to the modified phase 2 of COVID-19 restrictions was a decision made after seeing trends and looking at multiple indicators, including community transmission, said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health. 3:46

Ontario sees 10 new deaths

Other areas are also seeing a greater increase in COVID-19 cases.

Areas that rose by double digits on Saturday include:

  • Regio Durham: 30.
  • Halton Region: 25.
  • Waterloo region: 19.
  • Hamilton: 12.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health: 10.

Meanwhile, the official COVID-19 death toll in Ontario has risen by 10 and now stands at 3,041.

The province now has a total of 63,713 cases of COVID-19, including 54,686 that are considered resolved. In Saturday’s update, 682 cases were marked as resolved.

The number of patients in hospitals in Ontario has increased by 17 to 278.

Those who needed intensive care also increased by five to 72, while those who needed ventilation machines increased by six to 42.

The network of local, commercial and hospital laboratories in Ontario processed 44,722 new coronavirus test samples yesterday, the ministry says.

The backlog of tests waiting to be processed is currently 33,630.

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