Canada's COVID-19 cases: Manitoba’s largest school outbreak worsens; Quebec reports most new infections since May

Bryan Meler
·Associate Editor, Yahoo News Canada

On Friday, Sept. 25, Canada recorded its 150,000th case of COVID-19 after Quebec announced 637 new daily cases. The update by Quebec marks the largest spike it has recorded since May 23.

In Ontario, its concerning case trend continues with another 400-plus increase. In the latest 24-hour stretch, 20 more schools have reported their first case of COVID-19. Toronto public health officials also declared the city’s first school outbreak on Friday.

In Manitoba, health officials have made masks mandatory in all public places in the Winnipeg metropolitan region, starting Monday. The spread of the virus has had an impact on all facets of the community, with there now being 28 cases linked to its largest school outbreak in Winnipeg.

For more on Friday’s top stories, and on how the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the country, please refer to our live updates below on Yahoo News Canada.

11,628 active COVID-19 cases in Canada: 150,456 diagnoses, 9,255 deaths and 129,573 recoveries (as of Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m. ET)

  • Alberta - 1,497 active cases (17,343 total cases, including 261 deaths, 15,585 resolved)

  • British Columbia - 1,349 active cases (8,641 total cases, 230 deaths, 7,036 resolved)

  • Manitoba - 487 active cases (1,764 total cases, 19 deaths, 1,258 resolved)

  • New Brunswick - 7 active cases (200 cases, 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

  • Newfoundland and Labrador - 1 active case (272 total cases, 3 deaths, 268 resolved)

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

  • Nova Scotia - 1 active cases (1,087 total cases, 65 deaths 1,021 resolved)

  • Ontario - 3,899 active cases (48,905 total cases, 2,837 deaths, 42,169 resolved)

  • Prince Edward Island - 1 active case (58 total cases, 57 resolved)

  • Quebec - 4,237 active cases (70,307 total cases, 5,814 deaths, 60,256 resolved)

  • Saskatchewan - 123 active cases (1,846 total cases, 24 deaths, 1,699 resolved)

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

  • Nunavut - 0 active cases (4 false positive cases)

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

Manitoba’s largest school outbreak continues to grow, student raises concerns about eating arrangement

Twenty-eight cases have now been linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s John Pritchard School, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Friday.

Five of those cases are epi-linked, meaning they are not directly linked to the school, but instead are connected due to secondary transmission.

The situation within Winnipeg schools is part of a worrisome trend for the province’s largest city. Of the record-high 487 active cases throughout Manitoba, 401 are in Winnipeg, according to provincial data. On Friday, Roussin announced new restrictions for the city’s metropolitan region, in order to try and limit the spread of the virus.

The outbreak at John Pritchard School made headlines on Sept. 16, when about 250 students were first sent home to learn remotely after seven cases were linked to the school. Those students were between Grades 4 and 8, and also included children in the school’s before and after program.

It marked Manitoba’s first school outbreak, since officials were able to identify transmission between at least two people within the school. At that time, many of the cases were linked to a single cohort. Both students and staff have been infected, but details as to how many have not been released.

A 12-year-old, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to CBC, has provided insight into what could have contributed to the spread within the school. They said that all four Grade 7 classes ate lunch together in the school gym. They were divided into their two cohorts, but the eating arrangement resulted in about 80 students being in the same room together.

"Kids weren't social distancing. They were talking without masks," said the seventh grader, who has recently tested positive. "As a kid, COVID-19 for kids with strong immune systems, it won't be as bad … but it's still a little scary. So, just keep cautious, kids."

So far, “about five” of the child’s friends in the same class have also tested positive for the virus.

As of Friday, At least 28 cases so far have been linked to Winnipeg's John Pritchard School, up by 21 since Sept. 16. (Credit: Trevor Brine/CBC)
As of Friday, At least 28 cases so far have been linked to Winnipeg's John Pritchard School, up by 21 since Sept. 16. (Credit: Trevor Brine/CBC)

Roussin said earlier this week that the province has a “fairly good understanding” of who the original case was and how transmission occurred, but did not provide more details.

“We know that young people can have very mild symptoms that sometimes can go unnoticed,” Roussin said on Thursday. “We have those masks, have some of the spacing in the class. Everyone's working really hard, but it just takes something to slip through that could put people at risk.”

Roussin did not have updated statistics on Friday relating to the overall situation in schools across Manitoba. However, he did announce that one case has been identified at River East Collegiate in Winnipeg, involving an individual who was at the institution on Sept. 18. The risk of further spread is considered “low,” since the infection did not occur at the school.

The situation throughout Winnipeg’s metropolitan region has been deemed more severe. On Friday, Roussin announced 54 new cases of COVID-19, 44 of which were in Winnipeg. The developing trend has prompted Roussin to place the city’s metropolitan region in “Orange,” the second highest level under its pandemic response system.

It makes masks mandatory in all indoor public places and restricts gathering sizes to 10 people for at least the next four weeks, starting on Monday. In August, Prairie Mountain Health region was placed in Orange, when it was the epicentre of the province. It has since gone back to “Yellow” as the virus has been controlled in the region.

What makes the situation different is that Prairie Mountain Health had a few main outbreaks that were leading the rise in cases. In Winnipeg, health officials don’t have the same benefit, with the virus spreading throughout the community in various settings.

Quebec reports its largest increase in cases since May; Canada surpasses 150,000 total cases

Quebec reported 637 new cases on Friday, the most in a 24-hour stretch since May 23.

It’s now the seventh straight time that the province has recorded more than 400 cases, and the 14th straight time that it has reported more than 200. The last time Quebec had a similar stretch was in late-May to early-June; since then it has enjoyed multiple stretches where it consistently reported fewer than 100 daily cases as it contained the spread of COVID-19 within the province.

The most recent update by Quebec also pushes Canada past 150,000 total cases throughout the pandemic, which includes more than 11,000 currently infected individuals. Quebec has led the way with 70,307 of those total infections. Canada reached 100,000 cases on June 18, and 50,000 on April 28.

Of the most recent cases in Quebec, 229 were identified in Montreal, 132 in QUebec City, 83 in Monteregie, 43 in Laval, 38 in Chaudière-Appalaches and 20 in Outaouais. Of the 18 regions, six of them reported fewer than 10 cases, while two reported no new patients at all.

At the moment, Montreal, Laval and Outaouais are in the Orange stage (the second highest) on the province’s colour-coded scale, which indicates the severity of the virus within its region. Certain sub regions in Quebec City are also in Orange, while the majority of the province is among the two lowest: Yellow and Green.

Throughout Quebec schools, 92 new cases were identified among students and 24 among staff in the latest 24-hour stretch. Since 42 more school cases have recovered, there are now 632 currently infected students and 90 staff in the province. So far, at least 427 class bubbles have been sent home and asked to learn remotely, up by 68 since Thursday’s report. Of the province’s 3,089 schools, 489 of them have had a case of COVID-19, up by 32.

Quebec’s testing numbers are reflective of its output from two days prior. Most recently, it completed 31,521 tests for COVID-19, as it continues to push its capacity.

No one has died in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch, but four more fatalities that occurred between Sept. 18-23 were added to its death toll (now 5,814). The province also noted that 313 more patients have recovered, so there are now 4,237 currently infected patients in Quebec, which includes 199 people in hospital (up by 15 since Thursday) and 33 in intensive care (up by two).

Quebec currently leads Canada in active and total cases, as well as COVID-19-related deaths throughout the pandemic.

Another day with over 400 cases in Ontario; 20 more schools report their first infections

A student in Toronto looks over his COVID-19 Screening Passport while waiting in line to enter his school. (Credit: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
A student in Toronto looks over his COVID-19 Screening Passport while waiting in line to enter his school. (Credit: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Ontario reported 409 new cases on Friday, which marks the sixth time over the past eight days that it has surpassed the 400 daily cases mark.

Before the recent stretch, Ontario had not recorded more than 400 cases in a 24-hour stretch since June 2.

Of the 409 new cases, 204 were identified in Toronto, 66 in Peel, 40 in Ottawa, 33 in York and 12 each in Halton and Durham. The remaining 28 public health units reported fewer than 10 daily cases, while 14 reported no new patients at all.

Twenty-nine new cases were identified in schools across Ontario in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch. Ten of those include students, 10 involve staff, while the other nine have not yet been identified by the Ministry of Health. Of the province’s 4,828 schools, there are now 198 that have had a case of COVID-19, up by 20 since Thursday’s update. There are a total of 238 cases among them.

On Friday, Toronto Public Health also declared its first school outbreak at Glen Park Public School in North York. Two cases have been identified and one of the individuals is believed to have acquired their infection at the school, which meets the criteria for an outbreak by the province’s definition.

"One of the realities of living in a world with COVID-19 is that there will be cases in schools," said Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health.

"Today's news is expected. I expect there will be similar announcements in future and you can be confident the steps developed to manage the situation and reduce the risk of spread will be followed.”

Of the most recent 409 cases, 213 of them were among people 20-39 years old, the most of any age group. There were also 97 cases among those 40-59, and 53 among those 19 and under. Four new cases were identified among long-term care residents and three among health-care workers.

Throughout Ontario, one more person has died and 283 more patients have recovered from the respiratory virus. There are now 3,899 active cases, the most since June 8. Of those currently infected patients, there are 87 in hospital (down by one since Thursday), which includes 27 in intensive care (down by two) and 11 who require a ventilator (up by two).

The province announced that 41,865 tests have been recently processed, but that statistic includes tests that should have been included in Thursday’s update, but were not due to a data delay.

On Friday, Doug Ford’s provincial government announced tighter restrictions for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments. Last call will now be at 11 p.m., while all strip clubs have been ordered to close.

"Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group," said a press release by the provincial government.

Updates from the rest of Canada

No new cases were identified in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador, as those provinces continue to have one active case each. As of Prince Edward Island’s last update on Wednesday, there also remains one active count in the jurisdiction.

One individual was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Brunswick, increasing the province’s active case count to seven. The latest patient is in their 30s, and lives in the Bathurst region. They recently travelled outside of the Atlantic bubble, but they are currently self-isolating.

Eleven new cases were identified in Saskatchewan’s latest 24-hour stretch, in which 18 people have also recovered from the respiratory virus. Of the recent cases, there are three each in the Saskatoon and North Central zones, while there’s one each in the North West, Central East, Regina and South East zones. The location of the final case is still pending. Throughout the province, there are now 123 currently infected individuals, with 69 of them living in its epicentre Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also notifying the public of 10 possible exposure warnings, between Sept. 18-21, at businesses in Prince Albert.

Alberta health officials have identified 153 new cases of COVID-19, but no one has died in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch. Three more school outbreaks have been declared at Elsie Yanik Catholic School in Fort McMurray and Calgary's Clarence Sansom and Glenmeadows schools, according to CBC. In total, there are now 35 schools in Alberta with an outbreak, which the province defines as a situation in which there are at least two cases at a school. One-hundred and eighteen patients around Alberta have also recently recovered, leaving 1,497 active cases. Of those currently infected, 786 are in the Edmonton zone and 518 in the Calgary zone.

British Columbia reported 98 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, which includes one epi-linked case. One hundred and nineteen people have also recently recovered and one has died in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which drops the province’s active case count to 1,349. There are currently 3,533 people who are self-isolating and being monitored by public health officials, since they were in contact with a previously identified case. In the latest 24-hour stretch, there has been one new health-care facility outbreak at the Peace Portal Seniors Village, but the outbreak at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been declared over.

Timelines of cases prior to August: