Canada

Ontario reports 404 new COVID-19 cases as upward trend continues

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Ontario has 129 COVID-19 assessment centres, according to Premier Doug Ford. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 404 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a 1.6 per cent jump that continues an upward trend of new daily cases that began about two weeks ago.

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in January to nearly 26,000. Of those, 76 per cent are resolved.

The number of currently active cases in the province has risen by about 20 per cent in the last week, and is now more than 4,100.

Ontario’s network of labs processed just 8,170 tests since the last update, far below its benchmark of 16,000 per day and nowhere near the almost 20,000 tests it has capacity to handle on any given day. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 3,883.

The figure comes after Ontario expanded its novel coronavirus testing guidelines yet again over the weekend. At a news conference Sunday, Premier Doug Ford said that anyone who feels they need a test will be able to get it at one of the province’s 129 COVID-19 assessment centres, even if they are asymptomatic.

A memo from the Ministry of Health, however, raised questions about whether that is indeed the case. The memo, circulated yesterday, suggests that contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 is among the requirements for a test to proceed. It did not specify what level of confirmation of a person’s contact with a confirmed or suspected case would be necessary for a test to be administered.

The provincial government has faced criticism for its public messaging during the COVID-19 outbreak, with Ontario’s top doctor even acknowledging last week that it has been inconsistent at times.

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A graph showing the daily total of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario. (Credit: CBC News)

Ontario’s official death toll from the illness grew by 29 yesterday and is now 2,102. Though the real current death toll, compiled from data provided directly by regional public health units, is at least 2,164. More than 75 per cent of total deaths in the province were residents of long-term care homes.

Further, there are now 859 patients in Ontario hospitals with a confirmed case of COVID-19 — the fewest in more than a month. Fluctuations in hospitalizations generally follow new case numbers by two to three weeks, meaning that the current situation could reflect a drop in new daily cases observed in early May.

Call to end commercial evictions

Meanwhile, five business groups are calling on the provincial government to impose a commercial eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The groups make the request in an open letter to Ford today, saying urgent help is needed as the due date for June rent approaches.

The groups include the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, Restaurants Canada and the Retail Council of Canada.

They say some landlords are not applying for a joint rent relief program from the federal and provincial governments.

Ford has previously declined to freeze commercial evictions, instead pleading with what he’s called “vicious” landlords to be flexible with business tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has said there could be legal implications if the government wades into long-term lease contracts.

CBC News

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