COVID-19 in Canada: Quebec bingo hall holds large, 'annoying' event despite warnings; Ontario's York region 'teetering' on edge of more restrictions

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub


York ‘teetering’ on additional restrictions as Ford asks people to stop travelling to other regions

With Toronto, Peel and Ottawa facing additional restrictions, there are increasing reports of people from those hotspots going to other regions to curb the rules, such as by going to gyms and dine-in restaurants.

“Folks, I’m just going to ask you to try to work out at home,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Thursday. “Big fitness clubs are saying they don't want you to come there.”

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott said by travelling to other regions, you risk increasing and furthering the problem. Ford said that if the virus picks up in other regions, they’ll naturally have to bring more of them into the “modified Stage 2 restrictions” that are currently imposed in the three hotspots.

The premier noted that he’ll be sitting with his health table today to discuss further steps. He was then asked why York doesn’t have additional restrictions; the region only trails the three hotspots in active cases with 647. All the other 30 public health units have fewer than 200.

“York's teetering right now … they've been teetering for a little while,” said Ford. “We just got to be careful and keep a very close eye on York right now. It's concerning.”

‘That's warning number two’: Ford puts pressure on third-party deliver apps

Ford continued to ask third-party food delivery services “to be part of the team” by lowering their commission rates, due to the impact it’s had on restaurants that are struggling to survive amid the pandemic.

“I always ask nicely. Then I start begging. And then I put down the hammer,” said Ford.

He first made a plea on Tuesday, noting that companies such as Uber Eats are charging as much as 30 per cent commission to have their food delivered. In some cases that’s on top of the service and delivery fees that are paid by consumers.

On Thursday, Ford said that his plea has not yielded any results so far, even though these companies are making an “absolute fortune.”

“Don't be greedy, because I can't stand when people are greedy,” said Ford. “That's warning number two by the way for the delivery folks.”

Rapid testing to be prioritized in certain sectors in Ontario

Ford said that when Canada’s first shipment of rapid tests are deployed to provinces and territories, the priority for Ontario will be making them available for frontline health-care workers and those in long-term care homes.

Elliott said that they’ll also be sent to some parts of northern Ontario, because the distance for shipping the swabs to the labs has resulted in long-wait times. The rapid tests by Abbott Laboratories can deliver results in less than 20 minutes, and are expected to be deployed by early next week, according to federal officials.

Case linked to Quebec bingo hall that’s held two events with hundreds of attendees

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is saying there was a “lack of judgement” after a bingo hall organized yet another event on Wednesday night with hundreds of attendees.

The Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu community bingo hall caught the attention of social media after it was shown with 250 attendees on Friday, Oct. 4., who were playing for a $100,000 prize.

Quebec health officials clarified earlier in the week that bingo halls in “orange” zones should be limited to only 25 people. But that didn’t stop organizer HR Community Bingo from hosting approximately 170 people on Wednesday, before it was shut down by police.

“I think that's a lack of judgment, I'm sorry, that's a lack of judgment,” said Dubé. “So that's a bit annoying.”

To make matters worse, on Thursday, public health officials in Montérégie announced that there’s one case among the participants who were at the bingo event on Oct. 4. Officials are recommending everyone who was at the event to get tested at a mobile clinic that’s being set up for Friday.

The Montérégie region is currently in the “orange” level of the province’s colour-scale, which indicates the severity of the virus in the region. It’s set to move to “red” (the highest) on Friday.

According to CBC, HR Community Bingo organizers believed they were able to host the bingo night since it is a commercial event regulated by Quebec's liquor and gaming board. Therefore, it puts it on par with casinos, which don’t have a set capacity limit in “orange” zones.

“This isn't a matter of saying that you could or not do it,” said Dubé. “Should you do it? Should you invite aged people in a room that will they will yell and say what they're happy that they won.”

The health minister noted that people are “very good at finding the little hole” in the rules, and should instead use that creativity to find ways to protect the people they initially invited to bingo. He’s now afraid of the consequences the province might see after the reported case on Thursday.

“Bingo should not be their karaoke that we saw in Quebec City,” he said, since a karaoke bar in Quebec City made national headlines in September after at least 80 cases were linked to the venue.

On Friday, Dubé and Premier François Legault also issued some directives for Halloween.

"This year Halloween is only for kids,” said Legault, noting that adults should be having parties.

Kids will be able to collect candy by going door-to-door, but only with members of their households. Adults who distribute candy should do so with a two-metre distance.

Legault also anticipates that restrictions in “red zones” will last more than the original timeframe of 28 days.

"My hope is that we'll be able to see our friends and family at Christmas," said Legault. "It's too early to say what form that might take but it won't be large gatherings."

British Columbia confirms its first case of MIS-C

British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday that the province has its first confirmed case of a multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

It’s a syndrome that’s sometimes associated with COVID-19 and is most commonly found in children under the age of 19 who require hospitalization.

“This is also a very severe illness. We know that children are much less likely to be affected with COVID and to have very mild symptoms, but we can't always tell who is going to have these severe outcomes,” said Henry.

“So it is important that all of us bear that in mind. We are still learning about this virus, we do not yet know if there are going to be long term effects, even for people who have mild illness. So it is a cautionary tale that all of us need to pay attention to.”

There have been 16 children who have been under investigation in B.C. for MIS-C. Health officials were able to confirm their first case in a child under the age of five, since they tested positive for COVID-19. The child has since recovered, said Henry.

It’s a syndrome that comes up usually several weeks to two months after a COVID-19 infection. MIS-C first caught the world's attention in April after children in Italy and New York City tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies, said Henry. and has since led to a worldwide effort to understand the new syndrome.

So far, it’s understood that MIS-C can lead to a prolonged fever, while patients also have two of the following symptoms: abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea, and a rash on both sides of the body. The syndrome is associated with inflammation of small blood vessels under the skin, which can lead to red eyes, inflammation around the eyes, and often inflammation and swelling around the mouth, hands and feet.

Since COVID-19 and other viruses can attack blood vessels, it can lead to inflammation around the heart, while blood clotting can also be a problem.

Nova Scotians can now get a $250 test for work or travel reasons

Nova Scotia Health has partnered with PRAXES Medical Group in order to provide COVID-19 testing for those who require proof that they don't have the virus for work or travel reasons.

The initiative will start Oct. 15, and a test costs $250 plus HST.

Like many regions in the country, testing in Nova Scotia isn’t currently encouraged for those who don’t have symptoms.

“This has been an ongoing issue really for seven months,” said Premier Stephen McNeil on Thursday. “We're confident that we have capacity now within our testing ability, so that we're now reaching out to those who want to have a test here.”

McNeil said that people were accessing private labs to get tests before, and that the partnership with PRAXES reduces the cost they’ll face. He noted that some people need a test because they’ll be teaching abroad, “so it was important that we made that available to them.”

Testing will be provided in these situations, according to a Nova Scotia Health press release:

  • Urgent, work-related travel that requires a negative COVID-19 test before departure.

  • Students or migrant workers who require a negative COVID-19 test before returning to their home countries.

  • Travel to visit a vulnerable, ill or elderly relative, attend a funeral or for other events on compassionate grounds when required by other provinces or countries.

Testing won’t be provided for non-essential travel or business related purposes, such as vacations and business travel when virtual meetings are an option. Test results will be available within 36 to 60 hours, depending on the number of tests being processed by Nova Scotia Health’s laboratory.

According to a Nova Scotia Health spokesperson, who spoke with Yahoo News Canada, the province currently does not offer testing to people who are not showing symptoms. Those who do have COVID-19 symptoms are offered a test for free.

Previously, if an asymptomatic Canadian resident needed a test in Nova Scotia, they would be charged just under $400. If they were not a Canadian, they would be charged just over $1000.

On Thursday, the province also announced that it’s made the COVID Alert app available for Nova Scotians. The app helps with contact tracing efforts by sending COVID-19 exposure alerts directly to someone’s smartphone when applicable.

Test results will be available within 36 to 60 hours, depending on the number of tests being processed by Nova Scotia Health’s laboratory.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.