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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a news conference in Toronto, on Sept. 9, 2020.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday urged residents to avoid large gatherings as the province recorded its highest daily total of new cases since late June.

Ford said the provincial government has health teams going to large urban areas including Toronto and Peel Region, which reported 71 and 38 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday. Ottawa reported 37 new cases.

“It’s not the City of Toronto or Peel Region’s fault,” Ford said during a news conference north of Sudbury, Ont.

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“This is happening, we’ve got to work together. All I’ve been asking is, please try to avoid these big gatherings. Just follow the guidelines and everyone will be OK.”

Overall, Ontario reported 213 new cases of the virus on Friday along with 124 cases newly marked as resolved.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 44,068, which includes 2,813 deaths and 39,598 cases classified as resolved.

The new cases are the most since June 29, when there were 257, and the first time there have been more than 200 cases since July 21, when there were 203.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday that 26 of the province’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer new cases, with 18 reporting none.

“Continuing to adhere to everyday actions like practising physical distancing, wearing face coverings and washing your hands remain our best line of defence against this virus,” Elliott said in a tweet.

The province said four students have also tested positive for COVID-19, all of them in Ottawa, along with nine school staff who have tested positive for the disease.

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On Friday, the provincial government launched a website allowing parents to access data on COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario schools and child-care centres.

The province said the website will be updated every weekday and include a summary of cases, as well as more detailed information on where the numbers come from.

Ford, who has stressed the need for parents to screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 as schools reopen to in-person learning, said Friday his government will do “whatever it takes to support parents” who have to stay home with sick or symptomatic children.

But the premier stopped short of committing to legislating any work protections or wage replacement measures for parents in those situations.

Doug Ford says he would prefer parents not take their children trick-or-treating this Halloween as Ontario struggles to keep its COVID-19 numbers low. The Canadian Press

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