Canada's Ontario says 'more extreme measures' on the table as COVID-19 cases rise

Moira Warburton
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A man walks through terminal 3, amid a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, at Pearson airport

By Moira Warburton

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario is considering "more extreme measures" on top of the widespread lockdowns in place, the premier said on Friday,

after the Canadian province reported a second straight day of record-breaking COVID-19 cases.

"I've never stressed this so much, all the way going back to March, as I am now: we are in a crisis," Premier Doug Ford said at a media briefing in Toronto, as he begged people to wear masks, wash their hands and stop gathering in groups to limit the spread of the virus.

The warning from Canada's most populous province comes as Quebec, the worst affected Canadian province from the pandemic, is set to start night curfew on Saturday.

Ontario reported 4,249 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to the provincial health minister. A stricter lockdown in Ontario, which is Canada's economic engine, would be a further blow to the expected economy recovery and comes on the heels of Friday's dire jobs data.

The province implemented a widespread lockdown impacting most businesses in late December, and announced on Thursday that it would keep elementary schools shut for in-person learning until Jan. 25.

Ford said that if people did not better follow public health guidelines, "the shutdown won't end at the end of January, and we will have to look at more extreme measures."

Ontario will release updated case modeling early next week, he added.

"We're in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling you'll fall off your chair," Ford said. "Everything is on the table right now."

Canada has reported 8,341 new COVID-19 cases and 210 additional deaths, for a total of 635,134 cases and 16,579 deaths, according to the latest government data.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Marguerita Choy)