People wear face masks as they wait to enter a store in Montreal on October 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

People wear face masks as they wait to enter a store in Montreal on October 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canadian provinces hardest hit by COVID-19 reach sobering milestones

Canada had 215,879 total cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, including 9,940 deaths

The Canadian provinces hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic released sobering numbers on Sunday, with Quebec’s overall case count passing the 100,000 mark and Ontario registering more than 1,000 single-day cases for the first time since the start of the worldwide outbreak.

Despite registering comparable daily tallies, the two provinces long at the epicentre of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak appeared to be on opposite trajectories.

Public health experts noted that Quebec’s long-standing high case counts appeared to be levelling off, while stressing the week ahead will be crucial to bring Ontario’s surging numbers back under control.

Quebec health officials reported 879 new cases, bringing the province’s total to 100,114 infections. The province also recorded 11 additional deaths attributed to the virus, for a total of 6,143.

“Comparing the past two weeks, we see that the number of cases is stable, but remains high,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter, urging people to make an effort to reduce transmission of the virus.

The province’s recent COVID-19 numbers are more encouraging than they were last month, however, said Helene Carabin, a professor at Universite de Montreal.

Carabin said Quebec’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the virus’ ability to spread, is slowly creeping lower — a positive sign that indicates people are following public health guidelines.

“The population has clearly understood that in order to limit transmission, we have to be more careful,” she said in an interview.

“We’re going in the right direction, unlike what was the case in September. Now what it tells us is that probably we will continue to have to keep being very careful during the winter months for it not to creep up.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top public health officer, said in a statement Sunday that a “resurgence” of COVID-19 continues across the country.

Tam said there is a concern that Canada has not yet seen the full impact of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations and deaths generally lag behind case numbers.

Canada had 215,879 total cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, including 9,940 deaths.

Manitoba announced 161 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and the deaths of four people — two of which were related to an outbreak at a Winnipeg long-term care home where 17 people have now died.

Saskatchewan reported 60 new cases, down from its record-high of 78 that was set on Saturday, and no new deaths have been reported since Oct. 11.

Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19, while officials in New Brunswick reported two new infections and two additional deaths.

In Ontario, which recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a 24-hour period on Sunday for the first time since the pandemic took hold, at least one medical expert voiced concerns about the overall trend of the provincial figures.

The province reported 1,042 new COVID-19 cases, breaking the previous day’s single-day peak of 978 new infections. It also reported seven new deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

“Obviously no one wants to see 1,000 new cases per day,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Toronto General Hospital.

Bogoch said that while the cause of the recent spike is not entirely clear, the week ahead will offer a critical window for assessing the province’s progress in combatting the pandemic.

“Are we going to start to see a plateau in these numbers, reflective of a successful policy implementation in the hotspots in Ontario,” Bogoch asked, referring to major metropolitan regions where the bulk of the province’s latest cases have been concentrated.

“Or will we see a continuing growth in the number of new cases per day?”

Both Ontario and Quebec have reimposed restrictions over the past several weeks to try to contain the spread of the virus during the second wave of the pandemic.

Several regions of Quebec, including Montreal and Quebec City, were placed under the highest COVID-19 alert level, which forced the closure of bars and other public venues.

Quebecers in high-risk areas have also been told to avoid seeing anyone who does not live in their household.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has promised to provide an update on Monday on whether the Halton and Durham regions would join Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and York in “modified Stage 2” of the province’s economic reopening plan.

Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people in Stage 2 regions, and gyms, casinos, cinemas and other venues in those areas must also be closed.

Public health officials across Canada have urged people to be extra vigilant during the second wave of the pandemic, as colder weather pushes people indoors.

In her statement, Tam said influenza and other respiratory infections place an added strain on hospitals in the fall and winter months, making it even more important to heed preventative measures.

“Right now, doing the best thing to keep our family, friends and community safer means keeping safely apart,” she said.

On Sunday, 278 people were hospitalized in Ontario due to the virus, including 79 in intensive care. In Quebec, 551 hospitalizations were recorded, of which 97 were in intensive care.

—with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Toronto, Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eric Byres, industrial control engineer and CEO of Lantzville-based aDolus Technology, didn’t expect his company to win the 2020 New Ventures B.C. competition, but says he will use the $135,000 in first-place prize money to hire more development staff. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Lantzville-based cyber-security start-up wins $135K innovation competition

Industrial control systems security company, aDolus Technology, wins New Ventures B.C.’s top prize

We need to curb our addiction to growth and set about building a more sustainable society, says columnist. (Stock photo)
Column: Addressing over-consumption needs to be a priority

For 50 years we have been avoiding action for sustainability, says columnist

Island Health is expanding COVID-19 testing in Nanaimo with a new testing location at Vancouver Island University. (News Bulletin file photo)
Island Health expands COVID-19 testing in Nanaimo

Health authority opens new testing site with double the capacity at Vancouver Island University

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreaks at pair of Vancouver Island Hospitals

Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni affected

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

Most Read