Peel Region only one in coronavirus red zone as Ontario switches to colour-coded system

Peel Region will be under the highest COVID-19 alert level short of a lockdown as Ontario shifts to a tiered and colour-coded system for managing pandemic measures.

The provincial government released a list today classifying each public health unit under the new red, orange, yellow and green risk level system – a change that will take effect at midnight.

The move comes as heightened restrictions were set to expire in three hot spots, including Peel Region.

Read more: Ontario classifies municipalities in new, more targeted COVID-19 category system

Another of the hot spots, Toronto, will remain under a modified Stage 2 — the restriction classification system previously used by the government — for a week.

The new system was announced earlier this week in an effort to fight the pandemic in a more targeted manner.

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It places health units in colour-coded categories depending on their caseload and transmission levels.

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Regions in the red category will, among other things, have indoor restaurant dining limited to 10 people and have gyms limited to 10 people indoors.

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Coronavirus: Ford says new colour-coded COVID-19 control system is about ‘early detection,’ ‘early prevention’

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,003 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 14 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 300 cases are in Toronto, 280 in Peel Region and 125 in York Region.

The province said it has conducted 41,268 tests since the last daily report, and has a backlog of 47,074 tests.

In total, 380 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 86 in intensive care.

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The province also reported 85 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 49 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 582 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,003 new coronavirus cases, 14 more deaths

Toronto’s top public health doctor said the pandemic has also exacerbated the already deadly overdose crisis playing out across the city, flagging a significant increase in overdoses since March compared with the same period in previous years.

In a new report, Dr. Eileen de Villa said 132 people died due to a suspected opioid overdose between April 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, nearly double the number for the same stretch last year and in 2018.

She called for urgent steps to be take, including increased access to harm-reduction programs, piloting virtual or phone-based supervised consumption services, and a commitment to decriminalizing possession of all drugs for personal use.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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