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A physician speaks to people waiting for a COVID-19 test at Brewer Park, in Ottawa, on Sept. 17, 2020.Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Ontario is restricting visitor access to long-term care homes in COVID-19 hot spots as cases surge in some parts of the province.

Premier Doug Ford says that as of Oct. 5, only staff and people deemed to be essential caregivers or essential visitors will be permitted in those homes.

He says the restrictions will apply in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.

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The province says up to two family members or friends of a resident can register to become an essential caregiver.

Ford also announced $540 million in additional funding to help long-term care homes fight the second wave of the virus.

The funding will be used to provide support to staff, pay for renovations and to bolster infection control.

Ford is also promising that every home in the province will have a two-month supply of personal protective equipment.

Ontario is reporting 554 new cases of COVID-19 today and four new deaths from the illness.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 251 cases are being reported in Toronto, 106 in Ottawa, 79 cases in Peel Region, and 43 in York Region. She said 62 per cent of the new cases are among people under the age of 40.

In total, 137 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 30 in intensive care.

The province is also reporting 64 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 37 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 250 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools.

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