Coronavirus Canada: Toronto Public Health warns COVID-19 variant found in city

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Manitoba has completed more than 500K COVID-19 tests
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Manitoba has completed more than 500K COVID-19 tests

One year after the city reported its first case of COVID-19, Mayor John Tory called on residents to reflect on the more than 2,000 Torontonians who have died after contracting the novel coronavirus and redouble their commitment to following public health measures.

At a news conference Monday, Tory also reiterated a call he and other Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton mayors have previously made for urgent federal and provincial action on sick pay, saying the region continues to see outbreaks among essential workers.

The call includes an enhanced benefit that would come closer to replacing income, immediate benefits without delays, and simpler application procedures.

“Updating the sick pay benefits available will save lives and will help bring the virus under control faster,” Tory said.

‘Please step up,’ mayors ask of feds, province on sick-pay
“Please step up and make this guarantee for the duration of the pandemic,” he said.

In addition, Tory said the GTHA mayors are urging the federal government to boost testing measures at airports to detect the presence of the variants.

Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health is warning that a variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in the U.K. has been found in the city.

The health agency said Monday it’s ramping up infection prevention and control measures in a range of settings including the city’s long-term care homes and shelters as a result. The mutated virus spreads far quicker than the original strain, health officials say.

Unclear how many instances of variant in city
As for how many instances of the variant the city has detected so far, de Villa said she did not have that number available.

Toronto recorded 767 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — the most anywhere in the province. Another 15 people have died of the virus, and 13 more people are in hospital, medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said.

It’s unclear how many of those cases may be caused by the B.1.1.7 variant. So far the province has only confirmed 14 cases of the variant, according to its latest weekly report and it’s unclear how many of those cases were in Toronto.

“I believe it is possible that in 2021 we can pick up with the best of where we left off: with schools back, with the freedom to move, with one another’s company — and do it all in safety,” the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said.

“But there’s still a way to go and it will demand a lot from everyone.”

A provincewide stay-at-home order remains in place.

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