Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam looks at a slide projected on a screen during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

COVID-19 spread shifts to seniors as outbreaks rise in long-term care homes: Tam

Country struggling as second wave of pandemic continues

Canada’s chief public health officer says the spread of COVID-19 is shifting towards seniors, adding to the mounting signs suggesting a second wave could hit just as hard as the first.

In a statement Saturday, Dr. Theresa Tam said that while the summer saw cases concentrated in the 20 to 39 age range, infection rates are now accelerating in older populations.

Reports of outbreaks in long-term care centres and retirement homes have been rising in recent weeks, but seem to be more contained than the eruption of cases that overwhelmed several facilities in April and May, said Tam.

It’s a troubling trend given the heightened health risks the virus poses to older Canadians, said Tam, warning that we’ve already seen how spread in care homes can have deadly consequences.

“We all have a shared responsibility to help protect those at highest risk,” Tam said in a statement. “When spread of COVID-19 is kept to low levels in the community this decreases the risk of exposure for older Canadians.”

READ MORE: Canadians urged to keep COVID-era Thanksgiving gatherings small, virtual

Meanwhile, some of the hardest-hit provinces are scrambling to prevent such a worst-case scenario by introducing new restrictions to rein in the surge in regional hot spots.

Ontario reported 809 new cases on Saturday, including 358 in Toronto, 123 in the Peel Region and 94 in Ottawa.

The numbers come on the first day of the province’s new measures to curb the consistent climb of cases in those areas, including closing gyms, movie theatres and casinos and suspending indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

The government also reported seven new deaths related to the virus. In total, 213 people are hospitalized in Ontario because of COVID-19; 47 people are in intensive care and 29 are on ventilators.

The picture wasn’t any prettier in Quebec, which reported another 1,097 new cases on Saturday — the sixth day out of the last seven that the province surpassed 1,000 new cases.

Quebec also reported 14 additional deaths. Hospitalizations rose by 11 to 444, and six more people were in intensive care, for a total of 73.

In response, the province was set to expand restrictions in nearly all the regions along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City on Saturday night.

Bars, restaurant dining rooms and gyms in so-called “red zones” must be closed, sports are limited and private citizens are not allowed to gather in private homes with anyone outside their household, with few exceptions.

In Manitoba, health officials reported two more deaths from COVID-19, as well as 97 new cases.

The province said in its daily pandemic update on Saturday that two women in Winnipeg — one in her 80s and another in her 90s — had died since the last update on Friday.

Public health officials also reminded people that residents of personal care homes are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and that any visits over the Thanksgiving weekend should be planned with caution.

Even the Atlantic bubble seems to have been perforated by the pandemic’s second wave.

There were 20 new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick on Saturday, bringing the province’s total number of active cases to 57.

The province’s chief medical officer of health said 12 of the new cases are in the Moncton region and seven are in the Campbellton region. Both regions remain in the “orange” level of restrictions under the province’s COVID-19 plan.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia each reported three new cases on Saturday.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusHealthcareSeniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Items seized over four days of targeted vehicle checks Nanaimo and Victoria by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC photo)
Gang enforcement team seizes drugs and weapons in Victoria and Nanaimo

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. checked 33 vehicles over four days

Sam Liu, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UVic, has found extroverts, particularly people who are very active and social, are experiencing higher levels of distress throughout the pandemic. (Provided by UVic Photo Services)
University of Victoria study finds extroverts experiencing higher stress levels during pandemic

Degree of extroversion influences individual perception of stress during the pandemic

Police continue to investigate a break-and-enter in this Sidney jewelry store in the 2500-block of Beacon Avenue. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Thieves hit Sidney jewelry store

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says incident is not part of a larger trend

A rare Short-eared owl was found dead in a Saanich backyard on Oct. 26 and will be sent for a necropsy to find out if it had ingested rat poison. (Photo courtesy Kimberly Adamec)
Rare owl found dead in Saanich yard to be sent for necropsy

Short-eared owl ‘vulnerable’ in B.C., owl advocate says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #91, said plans for a new building will ensure long-term sustainability. (Black Press Media file photo)
Plans for new Legion in Langford include low-cost housing for seniors

Project could be before council in early 2021

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Most Read