Timiskaming region moving to COVID-19 Red-Control level Friday due to rising cases

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TORONTO — A rising number of COVID-19 cases has prompted the Ontario government to move the Timiskaming Health Unit to the Red-Control level.

The province says it made the decision at the request of the local medical officer of health in the region due to concerning public health trends.

The change goes into effect on Friday.

In a release, the province says the region’s case rate has increased from 3.1 to 24.5 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 700 per cent, with more cases expected in the coming days.

Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, says immediate action was needed to help ensure the continued health and safety of people in the region and minimize further transmission.

Ontario’s Red-Control level means there have been repeated outbreaks in multiple sectors and settings that could overwhelm hospital and intensive care capacity.

“As a result of a rapid worsening in trends of key health indicators in the Timiskaming region, we are making the difficult but necessary decision to immediately move the region to a new level with stronger public health measures in place,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said late Thursday in a release.

“Our government will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect the health and well-being of all individuals, families and their communities.”

The actual number of COVID-19 cases in the region was not released.

Ontario reported 2,380 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, although the Ministry of Health said the number was inflated by about 280 cases due to a data processing issue.

The province also reported 17 more deaths linked to the virus.