Quebec sees most new infections since early May, with 126 in schools; Manitoba reports record-high for active cases

On Thursday, Oct. 1, Quebec reported 933 new cases of COVID-19, the most in a 24-hour stretch since early May.

The update by Canada’s worst-hit province also included 126 new cases in schools that were identified among students and staff. Meanwhile in Ontario, 64 new infections in K-12 schools were reported, as its total province-wide case count increased by 538, which is part of a worrisome trend for the nation’s most populous jurisdiction.

In Manitoba, the province once again hit a new record-high for active cases, as those in its epicentre express their concern about long wait-times for testing. In Alberta, there are now 11 schools that have seen likely transmission within the learning facility. However, health officials are reminding the public that it’s a low percentage considering how many schools have had cases since they opened a month ago.

For more on Thursday’s top stories, and on how the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the country, please refer to our live updates below, as well as our COVID-19 news hub and our live blog on the latest updates across Canada.

14,866 active COVID-19 cases in Canada: 160,535 diagnoses, 9,319 deaths and 136,350 recoveries (as of Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m. ET)

  • Alberta – 1,596 active cases (18,235 total cases, including 269 deaths, 16,370 resolved)

  • British Columbia – 1,261 active cases (9,220 total cases, 235 deaths, 7,695 resolved)

  • Manitoba – 621 active cases (2,029 total cases, 20 deaths, 1,388 resolved)

  • New Brunswick – 6 active cases (200 cases, 2 deaths, 192 resolved)

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 3 active case (275 total cases, 3 deaths, 269 resolved)

  • Northwest Territories – 0 active cases (5 total cases, 5 resolved)

  • Nova Scotia – 2 active cases (1,088 total cases, 65 deaths 1,021 resolved)

  • Ontario – 4,975 active cases (52,248 total cases, 2,851 deaths, 44,422 resolved)

  • Prince Edward Island – 2 active case (59 total cases, 57 resolved)

  • Quebec –  6,227 active cases (75,221 total cases, 5,850 deaths, 63,144 resolved)

  • Saskatchewan – 144 active cases (1,927 total cases, 24 deaths, 1,759 resolved)

  • Yukon – 0 active cases (15 total cases, 15 resolved)

  • Nunavut – 0 active cases (7 presumptive positive cases)

  • CFB Trenton – 0 active cases (13 total cases, 13 resolved)

Quebec reports largest spike since early May, 126 new cases in schools

Quebec reported 933 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most in a 24-hour stretch since May 2, when 1,109 cases were identified. 

On May 3, the province did announce 2,209 cases, but that was in part due to a data error that missed 1,317 positive cases in April. 

This latest update marks the seventh straight day that the province has recorded at least 600 cases. Before the recent stretch, it had not hit that mark since May 26. Since then, it has also experienced multiple stretches where the province consistently reported fewer than 100 daily cases as it contained the spread of COVID-19.

Of the latest 933 cases, 319 were identified in Montreal, 128 in Quebec City, 108 in Montérégie, 73 in Laval, 68 in Chaudière-Appalaches, 63 in Laurentides, 36 each in Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Outaouais, 28 in Estrie and 32 in Lanaudière. Of Quebec’s 18 regions, two of them reported zero new cases. 

Across schools in the province, 126 new cases of COVID-19 were identified, with 108 among students and 18 among staff. Of the 1,959 total cases, 1,237 are considered active, since 64 more having recovered since the last update. 

There are currently 631 class bubbles that have been sent home and asked to learn remotely, down by 35 since the last report. Of the province’s 3,089 schools, 720 of them have had a case of COVID-19, up by 33. However, 139 of them don’t currently have an active case, since the individuals have recovered.

Students from Lasalle Community Comprehensive High School walk out of class to protest COVID-19 safety concerns Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
Students from Lasalle Community Comprehensive High School walk out of class to protest COVID-19 safety concerns Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

In the latest 24-hour stretch, two more people have died. The province added a total of 14 more fatalities to its death toll (5,850) that occurred before Sept. 29. In addition, 580 more people have recovered, which brings the province’s active case count to 6,227, the highest in Canada. 

Quebec’s testing numbers are reflective of its output from two days prior. Most recently, it completed 30,918 tests for COVID-19, as it continues to push its capacity.

Of the province’s currently infected individuals, there are 275 in hospital and 43 in intensive care, up by 13 and three since Wednesday, respectively.

On Monday, enhanced restrictions under the province’s red alert (the highest) came into effect for the greater Montreal region, Chaudiere-Appalaches and the majority of the Quebec City region.

Manitoba reports record-high for active cases, hears testing concerns

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, announced 36 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, throughout the Winnipeg (28), Prairie Mountain (four), Interlake-Eastern (two) and Southern (two) health regions. 

The update increases the province’s active case count to 621, which marks the fourth time in the past six days that it has recorded a new record-high for currently infected patients. 

The province has seen its active case count rise over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago on Sept. 17, there were 293 active cases and a week ago today (Sept. 24), there were 449 infected residents. The majority of the 621 active cases are located in Winnipeg, which is home to 534 of those patients.

Last week, Roussin said that the province has seen a concerning trend in which half of its recent cases in Winnipeg are linked to bars, pubs and restaurants. In some cases, people were visiting more than one venue in a night while symptomatic.

“We’re definitely seeing that 20 to 29 age group, which is propagating the transmission of the virus right now in Winnipeg,” said Roussin on Thursday. “A lot of that is associated with the restaurant and the bar sector, which we’re actively working with right now.”

Health minister Cameron Friesen said that the province is also currently looking at additional enforcement measures, and that an update on potential changes for the bar and restaurant sector is expected in the near future.

Due to the rise in cases, starting on Monday, people in the Winnipeg metropolitan region are required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, while gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors. Starting Oct. 7, masks will be required all throughout Manitoba at all health-care centres.

Health officials in Manitoba are concerning about the increasing numbers of cases that are linked to bars, pubs and restaurants in its epicentre, Winnipeg. (Credit: Getty Creative)
Health officials in Manitoba are concerning about the increasing numbers of cases that are linked to bars, pubs and restaurants in its epicentre, Winnipeg. (Credit: Getty Creative)

As Winnipeg tries to deal with community transmission, people are concerned about long wait times for testing. There have been reports that Winnipeggers have been turned away from sites that are already at capacity by 9:30 a.m.

“As far as testing goes, we can look at it from every which way, and it comes out we don’t want waits like that. We’re doing what we can to address it,” said Roussin, who noted that the province won’t be able to open additional sites until the “coming weeks.”

Roussin said the province was previously able to exponentially ramp up testing because the majority of the health sector’s focus was on COVID-19. Now, hospitals and health-care workers are focused on other facets, as they try to catch up on a backlog of procedures.

On Thursday, Roussin announced that there’s a second case of COVID-19 that was identified at Carberry Collegiate in the southwestern town on Sept. 21. The infection is not believed to have been acquired at school.

In learning institutions around the province, Roussin said they haven’t seen transmission within the school setting, except for “significant transmission” at Winnipeg’s John Pritchard School. According to CBC, who received confirmation from the province, there are 35 cases linked to the Winnipeg school outbreak, including eight epi-linked cases.

However, Roussin said the majority of the transmission at John Pritchard has been among one cohort, which has shown the effectiveness of its layered approach in schools. From the start, the province expected to have cases in schools due to what’s happening in the community.

According to Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun, there have been at least 23 schools in the province with a COVID-19 case, with 18 of them in Winnipeg. 

Along with the 36 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, 14 more people have recovered, while the death toll remains at 20. Of the record-high 621 active cases, there are 15 in hospital, including seven in intensive care.

11 schools in Alberta sees signs of likely transmission of COVID-19

In Alberta, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there have been 11 schools in which they’ve seen likely transmission of the COVID-19 virus, up by two since her update on Monday.

In nine of those instances where there was likely transmission, it’s only led to one case.

“That’s a fairly low number when you consider how many schools have had cases,” said Hinshaw.

Throughout the province, there are 133 active COVID-19 alerts for schools (up by 20 since Monday), which means there has been a case of COVID-19 at the institution. In those instances, all students and teachers part of the classroom where there was a patient must isolate for two weeks. The 133 active alerts apply to about five per cent of the province’s schools.

Hinshaw said that so far, 28 schools (up by eight) that previously had an alert have reported no transmission, and everyone is now back in class. There are currently 257 active cases (up by 47), which includes 52 schools that have outbreaks (up by five). An outbreak is declared when there are at least two cases that have been in the school within a 14-day period.

“It does not mean the school was unsafe,” said Hinshaw, the same day that she announced that the province has created guidelines to ensure Halloween can run safely, and not be cancelled.

Since students started going to school a month ago, the province has completed more than 101,000 tests among school aged children, leading to a positivity rate below one per cent. Hinshaw said that when the province was at its peak in April, the positivity rate among school aged children was between eight to nine per cent. 

“We continue to monitor the spread of the virus in school cases and watch the developments in other provinces,” said Hinshaw. “It is particularly challenging right now, as we are starting to see the impacts of the usual increase in rhinovirus and enterovirus infections that typically happen at this time of year.”

Hinshaw said rhinovirus and enterovirus infections are almost always mild, but the symptoms are identical to what a mild COVID infection looks like. Therefore, it’s not possible to tell them apart without testing.

Throughout the province, Hinshaw said the labs have identified 173 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest 24-hour stretch. Since 157 more people have recovered and two have died, there are now 1,599 currently infected individuals in Alberta. 

Along with the two recent fatalities, Hinshaw notified the public of a recent death part of the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, which will be included in Friday’s statistics. In total, there have been 35 patients, 29 health-care workers and three visitors part of the hospital outbreak who have tested positive. Five patients have also died.

Ontario reports another 500-plus increase, 64 more school cases

Ontario reported 538 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, marking Thursday the fourth-straight day that the province has surpassed the 500-case mark. 

Before the recent stretch, Ontario hadn’t announced more than 500 cases in a day since May 2. 

The latest patients were identified after the province completed 39,646 tests, leading to a positive test rate of 1.4 per cent, which is one of its top five highest since June. 

Five-hundred and fifteen more people have recovered, while three have died (two involving long-term care residents) in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch. It leaves 4,975 active cases in Ontario, the most since April 29, when the province was at the peak of its first wave. 

Of the most recent cases, 229 were identified in Toronto, 101 in Peel, 66 in Ottawa, 43 in York, 13 in Durham and 13 in Waterloo. The remaining 28 public health units reported 10 or fewer cases, while 10 of them reported no new cases at all. 

The Ministry of Health also reported 64 new cases in schools. Of the most recent school cases, 29 involve students, 14 involve staff, while the other 21 have not yet been identified by the Ministry of Health. Throughout the province’s 4,828 schools, there have been 447 cases throughout 307 institutions. 

Three schools are currently closed due to COVID-19: Mason Road Junior Public School in Toronto, Holy Cross Catholic School in Kemptville and Monsignor Paul Baxter in Ottawa, according to the Toronto Star. 

On Thursday, the province announced revised screening guidelines for students, which won’t necessarily keep kids out of class if they have the sniffles or a headache.

“There’s all sorts of other causes of a runny nose, there’s other viruses circulating in the community,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health. “The kid might have just been outside and got a runny nose.”

Of the recent 538 cases, 250 of them were among people between 20-39 years old, the most of any age group. There were also 135 new cases among those 40-59 and 74 among those 19 and under. Fourteen cases involve long-term care residents, and six involve health-care workers. 

Of the province’s 4,975 active cases of COVID-19, there are 162 people in hospital, the most since July 1. That includes 36 in intensive care and 17 who require a ventilator. 

Updates from the rest of Canada

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick both reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as their active case counts remain at two and six, respectively. As of Prince Edward Island’s last update on Sept. 29, there are also two active cases in its province.

Newfoundland and Labrador was the only Atlantic province to report a new patient. The latest case involves a woman between 20-39 years old. She recently returned from Alberta, and has been self-isolation since her arrival. There are now three currently infected patients in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Saskatchewan reported 14 new cases of COVID-19, throughout the Central East (five), Regina (four), South West (two), South Central (one), North Central (one) and North East (one) zones. Nine more people have recovered in the same 24-hour stretch, which leaves 144 active cases in the province.

On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority alerted the public about the increase in COVID-19 cases in Yorkton and its surrounding areas. Family presence and visitation has now been limited at Yorkton Regional Health Centre and Yorkton and District Long Term Care Home. Outbreaks have been declared at Yorkton Regional High School, Yorkton Regional Health Centre and the Pumphouse Athletic Club. On Sept. 28, an RCMP detachment in Yorkton also temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Upon an initial investigation, health officials believe that cases part of the outbreaks may be linked to the Pumphouse Athletic Club gym, where an individual visited while symptomatic between Sept 18-19.

British Columbia has identified 82 new cases of COVID-19, after completing a record-high 10,899 tests for the virus. One more person has also died, increasing the death toll to 235. Since 104 more patients have recovered, there are now 1,261 active cases throughout the province, which includes 69 in hospital and 19 intensive care. Currently, there are 3,093 people who are self-isolated and are being monitored by public health officials, since there were in contact with an infected individual. On Thursday, B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are currently no school outbreaks around the province, which she says can be credited to its robust system of contact tracers, who have been isolating people who test positive.

Timelines of cases prior to today:

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