A summary of the day's activities of Monday, September 28, follows.
Federal Government Relief Measures
- Bill C-4, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19, the new bill that includes New Democrat-negotiated changes. The legislation expands the eligibility criteria for the new sick leave benefit beyond simply those workers who contract COVID-19 and increases the amount of the temporary Canada Recovery Benefit by $100 to $500 per week — ensuring no one will get less than they were receiving under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which ended on the weekend.
Statement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not hold a COVID-19 news conference today.
Federal Government Briefings
In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:
"There have been 153,125 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,268 deaths. 86% of people have now recovered. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of almost 70,000 people tested daily last week and 1.4% of these testing positive. As of Friday September 25th, an average of 1,175 cases were being reported daily across Canada over a seven-day period.”
Dr. Tam urges Canadians to protect against misinformation about COVID-19 given the overabundance of information on online and social media platforms. She states, “When we come across new information, we need to think critically about it, check the source and not share it further, if there any doubt about its credibility.” According to Dr. Tam, the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/coronavirus, websites of provincial and local health agencies, as well as from international agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Red Cross provide trustworthy and reliable information about COVID-19.
Statement of Ontario Premier Doug Ford
At a news conference at Queen's Park, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Philipps and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams joined the Premier.
“Ontario is now in the 2nd wave of COVID-19”, Premier Ford said. He urged everyone to, “Please follow the health guidelines, please download the COVID-19 Alert app, and please get your flu shot this year.”
This second wave, according to Dr. David Williams, differs in several respects from the first wave of the virus we experienced in the spring. The upward trend of the curve is moving quickly. It remains to be determined whether this will be an “undulating” wave or a “tsunami.” In addition, this wave is concentred in four or five dense urban areas, enabling the government to be “surgical” in its approach to flatten the curve.
The province recorded 700 new cases of COVID-19 today after processing 41,111 tests and 1 death. This is the highest single-day increase ever reported in Ontario since the pandemic began.
Premier Ford then unveiled the fifth part of the province's COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. He announced $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers, including nurses and personal support workers (PSWs), to ensure the health care system can meet any surge in demand while continuing to provide safe and high-quality care to patients and long-term care residents.
Some journalists wanted to know whether the virus was mutating, as the number of deaths is low compared to the spike in cases. While Dr. Williams confirmed a mutation was taking place, he said there was “not definitive evidence to show an “attenuation” of the virus.”
Regarding moving regions at risk such as Ottawa and Toronto back to Stage 2 reopening, Deputy Premier Elliott reiterated, “the government does not plan to turn back to Stage 2 unless we absolutely have to.” She reminded the public that the 28-day moratorium on relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and the recent tightening up measures in bars and restaurants had been undertaken to contain the spread of the virus. Deputy Premier Elliott did not exclude the introduction of further measures, if required, on advice of public health.
Statement of Quebec Premier François Legault
At a news conference Montreal, Quebec Premier François Legault provided an update on the province's response to COVID-19 in light of the recent spike of new COVID-19 cases in the province. Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé and Quebec's Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda joined the Premier.
In recent days, there has been a sharp increase of case numbers in Quebec. Public health authorities reported 750 new cases today, 896 cases on Sunday and nearly 700 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of people infected to 72,651. Community transmission is present through the province, notably in Québec City, Montréal and Laval.
Premier Legault announced that the Montreal Metropolitan area, the Capitale-Nationale area (Quebec City) but excluding Portneuf and Charlevoix and the Chaudières-Appalaches region (south of Quebec City) were being elevated the “red” alert level, the maximum alert. He said, “The situation is critical. This rise in cases could lead to an increase of hospitalizations and deaths and the government must act quickly in the interest of all Quebecers.”
The following new measures will take effect in the three regions on Wednesday at midnight for a 28-day period.
- Ban on home gatherings, with some exceptions such as a single caregiver allowed per visit.
- All bars, casinos and restaurants are closed (takeout only).
Premier Legault confirmed the government is working on measures to compensate owners.
- Libraries, museums, cinemas and theatres will also be closed.
- Being less than two metres apart will be prohibited. Masks will be mandatory during demonstrations.
- Houses of worship and venues for events like funerals and weddings will have a 25-person limit.
- Hair salons, hotels and other such businesses will stay open.
- Schools will remain open.
"Schools must remain open," Premier Legault said. "Businesses are open so parents can continue to work and earn money."
All regions at the “green” alert level are moving up to “yellow” alert level. Premier Legault “strongly recommends against inter-regional travel.”
Teleworking continues to be strongly encouraged and the occupancy level of office towers remains unchanged at 25 per cent.
In response to questions from journalists, Premier Legault said there was a need to close bars and restaurants, even though they are not the main source of transmission, because the level of community spread requires closing down places where people socialize. He also said the government is studying how to step up enforcement, including for private gatherings, to ensure compliance with the new rules. He promised more details within days.
Premier Legault is confident that these new measures will contribute to flatten the curve. He did not exclude the possibility of extending the restrictions beyond the 28 days, if required.
Minister Dubé confirmed that an online exposure notification app should be available for use in Quebec by next week.
Elsewhere in Canada
As Alberta and British Columbia do not report new cases over the weekend, the next update for the average daily case count will be included in our next COVID-19 bulletin, once the provinces have compiled and released the numbers to the public.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Roussin and Manitoba's Health Minister Cameron Friesen provided an update on the province's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Manitoba government released its latest COVID-19 surveillance data Monday morning. The latest data is from the week of September 13-19 and reports increased activity of the novel coronavirus. The data shows that 78 per cent of cases were in the Winnipeg region.
After a weekend that saw 116 cases, the province added an additional 39 cases to its list today and another death, bringing the total number of cases to 1,919 and deaths to 20. According to Dr. Roussin, the province of the Manitoba has entered its second wave of COVID-19.
Public health officials have elevated the City of Winnipeg and surrounding communities to Code Orange restrictions for a minimum of four weeks; with new measures being implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks are mandatory for all indoor public spaces, with the exception of schools, restaurants, bars and casinos. Gathering sizes are restricted to 10 both indoors and outdoors, although again, those restrictions are not applicable to schools, restaurants, bars and casinos.
In response to questions from reporters, Dr. Roussin reiterated that further restrictions may come for restaurants and bars - a primary source of community transmission - but said the province wants to consult with the industry first.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen confirmed another COVID-19 mobile testing unit will open in Winnipeg on Wednesday. He also confirmed that the COVID-19 Alert app will come on line within days.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.