Canada

Doug Ford’s constituency office closed because of COVID-19 outbreak as Ontario reports 896 new cases

An outbreak of COVID-19 among staff has forced the closure of Premier Doug Ford’s constituency office in Etobicoke North.

As first reported on thestar.com, three workers at the office on Albion Road have tested positive for the highly contagious virus, sources said Friday as the Ministry of Health reported 896 new infections and nine deaths across the province.

That’s the fifth-highest level of daily new cases in the pandemic, with all five coming since Oct. 9.

“Toronto Public Health has confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff members of Premier Ford’s constituency office,” his spokesperson Ivana Yelich confirmed.

“The premier has not visited the office in the past two weeks and has had no exposure,” she added.

The office has been closed all week and was shut down “as soon as there was concern,” Yelich said.

“To allow for a deep cleaning, the office will be closed for the foreseeable future as services and support continue to be offered virtually. We thank the premier’s constituents for their patience.”

Ford has not mentioned the closure at any of his daily news conferences this week.

The office is in northwest Toronto where case positivity rates for COVID-19 are higher, and the latest statistics show public health officials have been unable to trace the source of 65 per cent of infections citywide.

Previously, a junior staffer in Ford’s offices at Queen’s Park has tested positive for the virus.

The 896 new cases across the province were down from 934 the previous day and remain in the band of 800 to 1,200 forecast daily for the next four weeks in computer models released Thursday.

“Locally, there are 314 new cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel, 115 in York Region and 92 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter of the four hot zones in modified Stage 2 restrictions with indoor dining banned and gyms and theatres closed.

Three of the nine new deaths were in nursing homes, where the number of new infections in residents more than doubled to 64 from 28 the previous day. Another 18 nursing home staff caught the virus, up from 11.

However, the number of outbreaks in Ontario’s 626 nursing homes fell to 78, a decrease of five.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham had 32 new cases and Halton 37, both increases from the previous day. Hamilton had 14, down from 28 reported Thursday.

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The Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area accounted for 76 per cent of the new cases. Ten of the 34 public health units across Ontario had none.

There were 61 new cases in schools, with 551 of the 4,828 schools in the province reporting infections in students and staff. As has been the case all week, no schools are closed because of outbreaks.




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