For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.
‘These are the real consequences’: Ford expresses frustration over COVID-19
With reports of Ontarians not being able to see their loved ones in end-of-life instances at hospitals, Premier Doug Ford voiced his compassion and frustration over the “crappy situation.”
“You know, people think the media are exaggerating and politicians are exaggerating but these are the real consequences when people are running around not following the guidelines” said Ford. “Please just follow the guidelines. Because God forbid, it's one of your loved ones that are in the hospital and they have hours or days to live.”
Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe clarified that people should be able to see their loved ones in those situations if they follow proper precautions. She apologized to those who have been affected, and said that she’ll communicate with hospitals to fix any future communication problems.
Later in Wednesday’s press conference, Ford was asked about why all gyms in the province’s three hotspots — Toronto, Ottawa and Peel — have to close, even if some haven’t had any problems with COVID-19. The question furthered the premier’s frustration over the developing second wave.
“You know what’s unfair? COVID, it's unfair,” said Ford. “Look at all these people that have been hurt. It's just nasty this virus. We were discussing the hospitals, their loved ones. These business owners that are struggling, you know families that are struggling, people that have had COVID. This is just a crappy situation. Sorry for the language, it’s just a lousy, lousy situation.”
As of the last Ministry of Health update, there are 231 people in Ontario hospitals, the most since June 29. That includes 64 who are in ICU, the most since June 25. In addition, there are 35 people who require a ventilator.
Outbreak at Hamilton spin place continues to grow, new guidelines being reviewed
An outbreak at a spin cycle studio in Hamilton, Ont., SPINCO, has made national headlines, since at least 69 cases have been linked to the venue.
SPINCO has reportedly followed all COVID-19 precautions, but that didn’t stop the virus from spreading.
Yaffe said she’s been in contact with the local medical officer of health in Hamilton, and she’s made recommendations that they review their public health guidelines for spin cycle places and other fitness facilities. It’s a process that is currently underway.
‘We're kicking everyone's butt on testing’: Ford defends Ontario’s testing, announces more contact tracers
Ford said the province is hiring another 500 contact tracers by mid-November, after hiring an additional 100 over the past week. It’s expected that they’ll have 4,000 contact tracers in total, who’ll be able to complete 12,000 calls a day. Ford said the new hires will be deployed to priority communities, such as Ottawa and Toronto, which are among the province’s hotspots.
On Wednesday, Ford was asked about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments about some provinces not hitting their testing goals, even though funding was provided to them in the summer to ramp up their efforts. Ford said the comment shouldn’t apply to Ontario.
“He must not be talking about Ontario, because we're kicking everyone's butt on testing,” said Ford. “ I’m going to … go on a call to see if he was mentioning us. I hope it wasn't us.”
The premier noted that the province has faced backlog issues with testing and contact tracing, but those have been resolved. He said the province has been able to work collaboratively with the federal government on numerous occasions, which has led to almost 4.5 million tests in Ontario since the start of the pandemic.
Tracking sewage water helps as a ‘warning sign’
According to CTV Ottawa, health officials have noticed 3 to 6 times more traces of COVID-19 in sewage water in the nation’s capital compared to a week ago.
Yaffe said that wastewater surveillance is actually one of the “emerging methods of identifying an increase in COVID-19.”
“Research in other places has shown you can identify an increase in the sewage probably two to four days earlier than you start to see an increase in cases,” said Yaffe. “So it's an alarm bell.”
The sewage water testing is being done currently on a pilot basis at some facilities across the province.
“It's a warning sign that they need to be looking for cases and doing more preventive measures but as the premier just said, we know Ottawa is a hot spot. And this is confirming that it's a hotspot.”
Changes are not yet on the way for the Atlantic bubble, but may come with community transmission
Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said at the moment there’s no plan for the province to make changes to the Atlantic bubble, after a rise in cases in New Brunswick.
“The outbreaks in New Brunswick are regional,” said Fitzgerald. “We wouldn't consider closing borders to New Brunswick at this time. If we were to see extensive community spread happening or starting, then we would have to reconsider [additional measures].”
The Atlantic bubble allows residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to travel freely to each other’s jurisdictions, without having to self-isolate for 14 days upon return or arrival.
New Brunswick is currently dealing with outbreaks in the Moncton and Campbellton region. It has resulted in a record-high 90 active cases as of Wednesday, more than all the three other Atlantic provinces combined.
On Wednesday, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said that the province has been able to identify the source of the Moncton outbreak to someone who recently travelled, which has allowed them to rule out community transmission.
For the Campbellton outbreak, Russell said that all the cases are linked, but the source is not yet clear. An investigation is still pending.
Community transmission means there is no clear source of origin for the infection.
Russell said it’s important to identify the source, because if there are three cases of community transmission within six days, it means that the affected regions will have to move to “red” on its COVID-19 restrictions scale. Among the restrictions is that people will have to return to single household bubbles, while all K-12 schools will be limited to virtual learning.
Fitzgerald credits the work N.B. health officials have done so far in order to identify contacts and make sure they are isolated in order to limit the spread of the virus. At the moment, there are 150 people in the Moncton region and 320 people in the Campbellton region who are self-isolating.
“It's been a very stressful week or so for them, for sure,” said Fitzgerald.
N.L.’s top doctor said that if you do travel to New Brunswick, you should limit the number of close contacts to as few as possible, maintain physical distancing, and practice proper hygiene principles. Those entering N.L. from New Brunswick should avoid attending any large gathering or crowded public spaces for 14 days.
Along with the updated recommendations for those travelling between N.L. and N.B., Fitzgerald said that they are carefully considering the impact on non-essential visits to Newfoundland and Labrador during the Christmas season. A decision is expected within the upcoming weeks.