Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario to unveil new COVID-19 hot spot rules, possible lockdowns

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario to unveil new COVID-19 hot spot rules, possible lockdowns
Coronavirus Canada Updates: Ontario to unveil new COVID-19 hot spot rules, possible lockdowns

Ontario is expected to announce new public health measures for Toronto and two other COVID-19 hot spots on Friday afternoon, but one of the communities is asking to be spared from a full lockdown.

Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet were meeting Friday to consider the new measures after the province’s chief medical officer of health submitted recommendations a day earlier.

The premier said earlier this week that the restrictions will affect Toronto as well as Peel and York regions, where cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

“These measures, they will have to be tough in the hardest hit areas,” Ford said Thursday. “We’re seeing concerning trends, our hospital ICU beds are in jeopardy and our long-term care homes are at risk. We have some difficult, but necessary decisions to make.”

The new measures are set to arrive as Ontario reported 1,418 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with eight new deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 400 new cases in Peel Region, 393 in Toronto and 168 in York Region.

Meanwhile, York Region’s top municipal official and chief medical officer of health wrote to the province asking that their community not be placed in full lockdown.

Regional chairman Wayne Emerson and medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji said in a letter to Ford that the area’s local infection numbers were expected to come down since it had recently been placed in the red zone of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions system.

They said York’s three local hospitals have also reported they are not suffering the same capacity strain other regions are seeing.

“It is our position that good case, contact and outbreak control management continues to be our most effective means of reducing new cases in the community,” they said.

As of Friday, Ontario had 518 people in hospital with COVID-19.

In the province’s long-term care homes, 558 residents currently have COVID-19 and four new deaths were reported Friday.

The province said 102 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.

The government also moved Friday to extend orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, ensuring they will remain in force until Dec. 21.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said extending the orders will mean the province can address the health crisis and deliver critical services such as health care.

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