Canada inches toward to 200,000 COVID-19 case mark, with most new cases in Quebec

TORONTO — Canada's COVID-19 caseload edged closer to the 200,000 mark on Sunday after a weekend in which Quebec had the majority of new infections and public health officials urged Canadians to remain united in their efforts to combat the pandemic.

The country reported 1,827 new cases Sunday, for a total of 198,151 infections.

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Quebec accounted for 1,094 of those new cases, marking the third day in a row the province has had more than 1,000 infections.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the number of hospitalizations in the province continues to rise and urged residents to "break the wave to slow this down" and "protect the most vulnerable."

Ontario reported the second-highest number of new cases Sunday at 658, while Manitoba had 44, Saskatchewan logged 24, New Brunswick posted five and Nova Scotia had two. Health authorities said the new cases in the Atlantic provinces were related to travel outside the region

Ontario has taken steps to curb the spike in cases in four hot spots by reverting them to a modified Stage 2 of pandemic recovery, which includes the closure of gyms and movie theatres, and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars.

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa moved to the modified Stage 2 on Oct. 10 and York Region will join them on Monday.

"Our challenge now and going forward is to remain united in our efforts to get all of Canada back on a 'slow burn,'" Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Sunday in a statement.

"Our goal is to reduce cases of COVID-19 infection to manageable levels. But public health cannot do this alone. Everyone is needed on the frontlines, from essential workers to volunteers to businesses, workplaces, and everyday citizens across Canada."

Tam added individuals "can go the extra mile" by downloading the COVID Alert contact tracing app or "sharing credible information" on COVID-19 risks and prevention measures via social media.

Her sentiments echoed those in a statement on Saturday, when she stressed the importance of a "collective effort," even though the pandemic is affecting each part of the country differently.

As of Sunday, there have been 9,760 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada.

The federal Conservatives on Sunday called for the House of Commons’ health committee to investigate Ottawa’s preparations for a second wave of COVID-19, with Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner accusing the Liberal government of being caught flatfooted despite expectations that there would be a resurgence in the number of cases in the fall and winter.

"As businesses are closed in another series of COVID related economic shutdowns, we are looking for answers as to why the federal government left Canadians unprepared to deal with this second wave," Rempel Garner said during a news conference as MPs prepared for the resumption of Parliament on Monday.

"We need these answers so that we can move forward and keep Canadians safe while also keeping things open."

-- With files from Lee Berthiaume

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020.

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