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Ontario reveals potential cause for concerning spike in COVID-19 cases
TORONTO -- The Ontario government has revealed a potential cause for a concerning uptick in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province and says it will "take action" if the trend continues.
On Monday, Ontario confirmed more than 400 new cases of the novel coronavirus for the fifth day in a row. After 10 days of daily case counts being below 400 in Ontario, health officials confirmed 427 new patients on May 19. The case count dropped back down to 390 the following day before it climbed to 413, 441, 412 and 460 in the days that followed.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the recent spike in cases relates back to Mother’s Day weekend, when people were "seeing families when they should not have been more than five people together."
Elliott said she hopes the numbers will begin to decrease but added that if they don't the government will "take action."
"What we are going to see going in towards the end of this week will really be based more on the opening up of the economy that started up last week and that’s where both Dr. Williams and I will be very interested in the numbers," Elliot said.
"I know that everyone is very anxious to be able to have more things opened, to have restaurants opened and other things opened but we have to make sure we do this responsibly."
In March, the Ontario government made gatherings of more than five people, with the exception of those who live together, illegal. The order remains in place.
Premier Doug Ford, who said last week the province’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases is concerning, admitted earlier this month that he had two of his daughters over on Mother’s Day weekend, breaking social gathering restrictions.
Ford, who lives with his wife and two of his four daughters, said his two other daughters, who do not live with him, came over to visit.
Ford told reporters that he trusts "the judgement of the people of Ontario" and that if people keep their gatherings small as possible, "that would be very helpful."
The province has previously suggested that it was looking to increase the size of allowable gatherings beyond five people but due to the rise in cases, that directive has been "pushed back."
"We had been discussing pools of people that could be together, the social cohorting and so on, but given what's happened with the numbers of people coming down with COVID in the last few days, along with what has happened over this past weekend with large groups of people coming together in Trinity Bellwoods and other parks, Dr. Williams is reluctant to move forward with that right away," Elliott said.
''There is a concern about people creating groups that are too large. So it is something that is coming forward but it has been pushed back a little bit."
In Ontario, there are 25,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2,102 deaths and 19,698 recoveries.
With files from CP24's Codi Wilson