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Ontario election: Two out of four party leaders have COVID-19

As Ontario’s election date approaches, two of the province’s four main political party leaders have tested positive for COVID-19.

Greens boss Mike Schreiner announced in a press release on Wednesday evening that he had received a positive result from a quick test after close contact with an employee.

“I feel good. Got a slight cough this morning. But I am self-isolating, I am following all public health guidelines and we will be campaigning from home until it is safe not to do so,” Schreiner told CP24 on Thursday morning.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath delivered similar messages in a news release Thursday morning and will not remotely attend her previously scheduled in-person campaign stops in northern Ontario.

“I’m really sorry that’s changed,” Horwath said Thursday morning via Zoom.

The NDP leader said she felt she had “a small flaw” but “certainly not 100 per cent”.

All four party leaders were in close proximity to each other Monday night for the only televised debate of the 2022 election campaign.

A spokesman for Steven Del Duca said the Liberal leader had tested negative following positive test results from Schreiner and Horwath.

During a campaign stop in Mississauga, Del Duca wished Horwath and Schreiner a speedy recovery and underscored the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

“I think this is a good reminder that while we all want to be on the other side of this pandemic, there are still risks and that so many here in Mississauga and across Ontario are still struggling,” he said .

Meanwhile, in response to an email from CTV News Toronto inquiring about the status of leader Doug Ford, a PC Party spokesman said: “He has no symptoms.”

Ivana Yelich said because “more than 48 hours have passed since the debate”, “he is not considered a close contact”.

Yelich added he also tested negative.

Speaking from the campaign trail, Ford encouraged Ontario residents to continue following what remains of COVID-19 safety protocols.

“(If) you have symptoms, please get tested,” he said

Speaking to CP24 Thursday morning, University Health Network’s medical director for infection prevention and control, Dr. Susy Hota said the positive cases among party leaders should serve as a reminder that COVID-19 is still being transmitted across Ontario.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Doug Ford, left to right, Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath, Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca and Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner debate during the Ontario Party Leaders Debate in Toronto, Monday, May 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“There are many social interactions between party leaders and members of the public,” Hota said.

“It’s a cautionary tale that there’s still quite a lot of COVID-19 going on right now.”

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in Ontario, which have served as an indicator of transmission in the absence of widely available PCR tests, have been gradually declining in recent weeks.

However, the limited number of tests reported each day suggests that COVID-19 is still circulating in the province, with positivity rates stubbornly above 10 percent.

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