News

Ontario Has a ‘Growing Epidemic’ as Coronavirus Cases Spike Again

A prominent epidemiologist has ripped into the province’s response to the pandemic.
May 25, 2020, 1:25pm
Police patrolling Trinity Bellwoods Parks in Toronto
Toronto police clamped down on people refusing to obey physical distancing measures at Trinity Bellwoods Park over the weekend. Photo by Frank Gunn (CP)

On Sunday, Ontario reported its largest spike in coronavirus cases since May 8 as measures to reopen the province continue.

The province reported 460 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 25,500. Another 25 deaths were also recorded for a total of 2,073.

In an interview with TVO, Dr. David Fisman, a University of Toronto epidemiologist shot down the notion that Ontario is planking its COVID-19 curve and new cases are plateauing.

“We have a growing epidemic,” Fisman said.

Ontario’s COVID-19 response has gone “very, very wrong,” according to Fisman, in part because it seems like the province isn’t reacting to the epidemic and related scientific revelations quickly enough to stymie spread.

“We’ve wasted weeks. You see that over and over again: with masks, with community spread. You see that now with testing,” Fisman said, adding that testing and surveillance need to include asymptomatic people to be effective.

In a surprise press conference on Sunday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said everyone in Ontario can get tested for COVID-19, even asymptomatic people.

Currently, Ontario is testing about 11,000 people for COVID-19 everyday, but Ford said if people show up at testing centres, that figure could jump to 25,000.

People who are either worried they have COVID-19 or think they interacted with someone who has it “will not be turned away, you don’t need an appointment (to get tested), just show up,” Ford said.

Concerning crowds flock Toronto parks

Despite ongoing pandemic concerns in Ontario, troves of people flocked parks in Toronto to enjoy the warm weather over the weekend, sparking a social media furor.

Even Toronto Mayor John Tory visited Trinity Bellwoods Park, later issuing an apology for not wearing his face mask correctly.

Toronto’s top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, called the park goers’ behaviour “selfish and dangerous.”

Photos of the crowds surfaced on Saturday, just three days after the province started reopening park amenities and stores with street entrances. But physical distancing measures, including a rule that requires people who don’t live together to stay at least two metres apart from each other in public, are still in place.

Gatherings of more than five people are also prohibited right now.

In a now viral video, Toronto-based doctor Dr. Abdu Sharkawy responded to the crowds and pleaded with people to follow physical distancing guidelines.

“I’m really hurt when I see that,” he said. “I don’t want my ER and ICU to be filled with sick people in another few weeks. Please, please listen to me.”

Toronto police started clamping down on people disobeying physical distancing measures on Sunday.

Quebec also in rough shape

Quebec represents Canada’s pandemic hotspot with 47,411 cases and 3,984 deaths. Like Ontario, the province is gradually reopening its economy despite reporting hundreds of new cases everyday.

Quebec recorded 573 new confirmed cases of the virus on Sunday and 44 more deaths.

In good news, Quebec announced on Sunday that it finally hit its daily goal of testing 14,000 people: on Friday, the province administered more than 15,000 tests.

Cases across Canada

As of Monday morning, Canada had 84,699 COVID-19 cases and 6,424 deaths.

Here’s a breakdown of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases across the country:

British Columbia: 2,517

Alberta: 6,860

Saskatchewan: 632

Manitoba: 292

Ontario: 25,500

Quebec: 47,411

Newfoundland and Labrador: 260

New Brunswick: 121

Nova Scotia: 1,050

Prince Edward Island: 27

Yukon: 11

Northwest Territories: 5

Nunavut: 0

Late Sunday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 5 million, with more than 337,000 deaths.

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