Manitoba toughens COVID-19 restrictions as Ontario hints at “tough” measures ahead

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Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Thu Nov 19 2020 14:23:28

Manitoba has further toughened restrictions meant to stem the spread of COVID-19 as Ontario’s premier hinted at “tough” new measures ahead. 

Manitoba, which has the highest per capita infection rate in Canada, announced it’s tightening the rules for social gatherings and shopping. 

“COVID-19 case numbers are very concerning, to put it mildly,” Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday as the province reported 475 new infections and eight deaths. 

“They continue to cause significant strain on our health-care system.”

Over the past five days in Manitoba, 14 per cent of COVID-19 tests have come back positive. 

Starting Friday, people will no longer be allowed to have visitors in their home unless they are providing supports such as child care, tutoring and health services. Anyone who lives alone can have one visitor over to socialize. 

Stores can only sell essential items inside and must close off sections that offer non-essential goods such as consumer electronics. Capacity in big-box stores will be limited to 25 per cent of capacity or 250 people, whichever is less. 

Ontario is expected to announce new restrictions for hard-hit areas on Friday, but Premier Doug Ford had no details on Thursday when his cabinet was set to discuss recommendations from public health officials. 

“As it’s looking, these measures — they will have to be tough in the hardest-hit areas,” he said. 

“We’re seeing concerning trends. Our hospital ICUs are in jeopardy. Our long-term care homes are at risk. We have some difficult but necessary decisions to make.”

Ontario had 1,210 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with 28 new deaths from the virus. There are 526 in hospital, including 88 on ventilators.

There are 150 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, according to the Ontario Hospital Association. The Ontario government’s medical advisers have said that’s the threshold at which hospitals would need to cancel surgeries. 

York Region, north of Toronto, declared another wedding-related outbreak after nine confirmed and seven probable COVID-19 cases were linked to events in a home Nov. 6 and 7.

It comes just days after a different outbreak with 17 confirmed cases linked to two weddings in the region that were attended by many of the same guests.

Quebec, meanwhile, recorded 1,207 positive tests in its update Thursday. There were 34 new deaths, including seven in the past 24 hours. 

There are 651 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in that province, along with 101 in intensive care. 

Premier Francois Legault is to hold a news conference late Thursday afternoon alongside provincial health and education ministers.

Legault has said he would soon unveil rules around holiday gatherings and announce a decision on whether the school winter break will be extended.

You can read the original article here.

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