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‘A blunt warning’: Toronto hits a record high for COVID-19 cases, as data shows dangers of visiting each other’s homes

Toronto’s new COVID-19 infections blasted past 700 on Tuesday — a record high for a second straight day and a “blunt warning” to Torontonians to stop mingling, says the city’s public health chief.

Dr. Eileen de Villa said 761 new infections, after a record 643 on Monday, shows the deadly virus “continues to spread easily and widely,” in Toronto.

“Today’s case counts are a blunt warning … that everyone at every age shares the risk of infection, just as all of us have the ability to reduce the risk through the actions and choices we take in the next several weeks,” de Villa said in a statement.

Small inter-household gatherings appear to be a big part of the city’s second wave.

Analysis of a “source of infection survey” suggests one in five people with the virus confirm they had visitors in their home, or went in somebody else’s home, for gatherings of 10 people or less during the period they were infected.

While 21 per cent of infected people identified close contact with an infected spouse or partner, the next most common relationships were friends, at 16 per cent, and co-workers, also at 16 per cent.

“In total, 35 per cent of cases reporting close contact indicated that their close contact with known cases were only non-household contacts,” de Villa wrote.

“This underscores guidance to keep contact within your household.”

De Villa and Mayor John Tory have been begging Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when out, wash hands frequently and don’t go to work sick.

Of today’s 761 COVID-19 cases, almost 57 per cent are people aged 20 to 49. While anyone can suffer serious illness, the majority of those who die from COVID-19 are elderly.

Since Monday 13 more people were hospitalized, bringing Toronto’s total to 258, with 49 in intensive care. The city recorded no new deaths Tuesday, but has in recent weeks seen many seniors home residents succumb.

As she did Monday, de Villa stressed the spike in infections, amid increased testing, do not yet reflect any benefits from the 28-day “grey zone” lockdown that started for Toronto Nov. 23.

Reduced infections from the closure of indoor dining, gyms and limits on weddings and other gatherings likely won’t be seen until around Dec. 7 because the virus incubates for roughly 14 days, she said.

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Toronto new infections hit a record low of one case on July 28. The number rose gradually as the city reopened after lockdown and rapidly accelerating this fall.

The city’s seven-day average of new cases was 454 on Tuesday.

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider




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