Ontario sees 1,138 new COVID-19 cases as number of active infections climbs for 1st time in weeks

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Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group, is expected to present updated COVID-19 projections for the province at a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.


Ontario reported another 1,138 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of active infections provincewide increased for the first time in more than six weeks.

The upward climb was small — in total, there were just 21 more active cases yesterday than the day before (10,071 compared to 10,050) — but it could be notable, given that until now infections marked as resolved have outpaced newly confirmed cases every day since Jan. 12.

The new cases in today’s update include 339 in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region.

Thunder Bay also saw another 44 cases. The local medical officer of health in the unit told CBC News this morning that residents should prepare to go back into the grey lockdown phase of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions system. Thunder Bay is currently in the red “control” tier.

Other public health units that logged double-digit increases were:

  • Ottawa: 64
  • Waterloo Region: 56
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 44
  • Halton Region: 40
  • Hamilton: 37
  • Windsor-Essex: 33
  • Durham Region: 28
  • Eastern Ontario: 20
  • Brant County: 19
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18
  • Niagara Region: 12
  • Southwestern: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new daily cases increased for a fifth straight day to 1,099.

Ontario’s lab network completed 66,351 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of two per cent.

According to the province, there has been a total of 449 cases involving the COVID-19 variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom. That is 54 more than there were in yesterday’s update. There have also been 11 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and two linked to the variant identified in Brazil.

Later today, the co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group is expected to present revised projections of how the variants could impact the spread of the virus. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown previously said that the variant identified in the U.K. could become dominant in the province by mid-March.

Researchers from the University of Guelph and University of Waterloo independently ran modelling simulations based on Ontario’s most recent reopening plan, with stay-at-home orders possibly lifted in Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound on March 8. The results suggest that the spread of the variant, which has been shown to be more contagious, could have profound effects on case numbers in latter half of March.

School-related cases

The Ministry of Education also reported another 83 school-related cases: 70 students, 12 staff members and one person who was not identified. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, or about 0.4 per cent of all schools in the province.

In a news release issued late yesterday, Toronto Public Health said that there are eight schools within the health unit where at least one case has screened positive for, or is most likely due to, a variant of concern.

“The affected individuals and cohorts have been dismissed from school with guidance based on their level of risk. TPH has followed up with close contacts in affected class cohorts and has recommended testing,” release said.

Public health units also recorded the deaths of 23 more people with COVID-19, pushing Ontario’s official toll to 6,916.

Meanwhile, the province said it administered 19,112 doses of vaccines yesterday, the second-most on a single day so far. As of 8 p.m. yesterday, 255,449 people had received both shots of a vaccine.

WATCH | Ontario’s vaccine rollout likely to be accelerated, says task force member:

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, says vaccinations of Ontarians in certain age categories are likely to move more quickly than initially planned. 0:56



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