Ontario sees 805 new COVID-19 cases as York Region long-term care homes face tighter restrictions

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

Majority of new cases concentrated in Toronto, Peel and York

Ontario announced stricter health measures for York Region in an effort to contain what the province is calling an 'alarming' surge in COVID-19 cases in that area. Peel Region, Toronto and Ottawa moved into a modified Stage 2 last week. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

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

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

The new cases mark an uptick from Friday, when 712 new cases were reported.

The Ministry of Health is attributing part of that uptick to an upload error, which it says has since been corrected. It says today's numbers include cases from Toronto Public Health that should have been captured in yesterday's count.

Saturday's new numbers come as Ontario announced that tighter restrictions will take effect in long-term care homes in York Region on Monday to match those already in effect in homes across Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region. 

Those precautions include: 

  • Limiting visitors to only essential visitors, including caregivers. 
  • Pausing short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons. Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed.

"We recognize that these restrictions are being introduced just one week after we announced new measures for the City of Toronto, the Region of Peel, and the City of Ottawa," Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care, said in a news release Saturday.

"We also know we must act fast to address changing conditions to protect the residents and staff in Ontario's long-term care homes."

A complete list of the impacted homes can be found here

Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician with Sinai Health in Toronto, said as a result of these new restrictions, the next concern will be ensuring that the mental health and well-being of residents are made top priorities. 

While he said it was an important move to restrict some activity in and out of the homes, the new policies are "quite blunt." 

Friends and family members of residents at Extendicare Guildwood in Toronto, on June 12, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

"Is this so blunt that we are going to restrict individuals from basic needs that they need to keep their mental and physical well-being during this pandemic?" he said. 

Stall applauded the regional approach to the long-term care home restrictions, but said the province "must be cautious" when enacting policies that restrict outings within a fragile population. 

"There's a big difference between going on a social gathering ... and contrast that to going outside for a walk." 

York Region to move to modified Stage 2 

The new restrictions come one day after Ontario announced stricter health measures for all of York Region in an effort to contain what the province is calling an "alarming" surge in COVID-19 cases in that area.

Premier Doug Ford said the region will be moved back into a modified Stage 2 of the province's pandemic plan, which bans indoor service in restaurants, closes gyms and movie theatres, and restricts public gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

The tighter measures take effect Monday and will be in place for 28 days.

"I hate doing this," Ford said in announcing the restrictions on Friday. "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 entered Stage 2, which placed restrictions on non-essential businesses, in June and progressed to Stage 3 in July, though a few were slower to move through the stages.

Nearly all businesses and public spaces were allowed to reopen in Stage 3, with health measures in place.

Elliott said Friday there has been an "alarming upward trend" in cases in York Region recently, and evidence of community spread that requires stronger public health intervention. You can watch her comments in the video below: 

'Concerning trends' in York Region, says Ontario health minister

1 year ago
York Region moving to modified Stage 2 of COVID-19 restrictions was a decision made after seeing concerning trends and looking at multiple indicators, including community transmission, says Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. 3:46

Ontario sees 10 new deaths

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

Areas that saw double-digit increases Saturday include:

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

Meanwhile, Ontario's official COVID-19 death toll grew by 10 and is now 3,041.

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

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals increased by 17 and now sits at 278. 

Those requiring intensive care also increased by five and is now 72, while those requiring ventilators increased by six to 42. 

Ontario's network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 44,722 novel coronavirus test samples yesterday, the ministry says. 

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

With files from Julia Knope and The Canadian Press


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