OTTAWA - COVID-19 continued its unforgiving march into new areas of the country on Monday, sweeping through long-term care homes and religious communities and into vulnerable regions as the federal government brought in new domestic travel restrictions.
Ontario reported 351 new COVID-19 cases Monday, the largest single-day increase by far, which health officials attributed at least in part to clearing a backlog of pending test results.
The new total of cases in the province is 1,706 — including 431 resolved cases and 23 deaths.
Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador reported the Atlantic region's first confirmed death from the novel coronavirus at the heart of the pandemic.
New restrictions on domestic air and inter-city passenger rail traffic were set to go into effect, requiring staff at airlines and railways to screen passengers and bar those exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 from boarding.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top public health official, said there have been more cases reported in areas at high risk of "severe outcomes."
That includes the first case in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, over the weekend, and outbreaks in long-term care facilities, leading to what Tam described as "devastating outcomes."
At a news conference on Monday, Tam reiterated the need to respect physical distancing measures, and emphasized that all travellers returning from abroad must isolate themselves from others for 14 days.
"Head directly home — do not stop for groceries or other essential supplies," she said. "Pick up the phone, get online and order what you need, but do not go out in public spaces."
The pandemic has caused widespread economic devastation as businesses have been forced to close their doors and more than a million people have applied for employment insurance.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that a wage subsidy unveiled last week would cover all businesses, non-profits and charities whose revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent because of COVID-19.
He said the government will cover 75 per cent of salary on the first $58,700 a person earns, or about $847 a week.
Government officials in Quebec and B.C. have said there are indications social distancing efforts may be paying off in slowing the spread of the virus, but Tam warned it's still too early to make that call. She has said this week will be "very, very important" in terms of looking at those trends.