Ontario reports 2,139 new COVID-19 cases as deaths top 4,000

Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as hospitalization figures reached second-wave highs.

Hospitalization figures approaching highs seen during 1st wave of pandemic

Registered pharmacy technician Tamara Rumsey prepares COVID-19 vaccines in Toronto on Dec. 15, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as hospitalization figures reached second-wave highs.

It's the second straight day of more than 2,000 new cases in the province, including 780 in Toronto, 528 in Peel Region, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham Region and 111 in Windsor-Essex.

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

  • Halton Region: 55
  • Waterloo Region: 52
  • Niagara Region: 51
  • Hamilton: 47
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 46
  • Ottawa: 36
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 33
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington: 15
  • Huron Perth: 13
  • Middlesex-London: 12
  • Southwestern: 11
  • Thunder Bay: 11
  • Eastern Ontario: 10

(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry'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 because local units report figures at different times.)

The Ministry of Education also reported 223 new cases that are school-related: 188 students, 34 staff members and one person who was not identified. Some 933 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools, or about 19.3 per cent, have at least one case of COVID-19, while 20 schools are currently closed because of the illness.

The seven-day average of new daily cases has risen to 1,962, the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic.

There are now 17,084 confirmed, active infections of the novel coronavirus in Ontario. It is the first time active cases have topped 17,000.

They come as the province's network of labs processed 49,189 test samples for the virus and added another 65,597 to the queue to be completed. The Ministry of Health has not yet provided a provincewide test positivity rate.

The number of people in hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 932. Of those, 256 are being treated in intensive care units and 157 require the use of a ventilator.

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, hospitalizations topped out at 1,043, while ICU admissions peaked at 264, according to the Ministry of Health.

The 43 additional deaths reported today, a single-day high during the second wave, bring the official toll to 4,035.

Ontario Hospital Association's board of directors will meet today for an emergency discussion about rising COVID-19 infections in the province.

The OHA said Tuesday that it's deeply concerned by the worsening pandemic and related pressure on hospitals. The unplanned meeting was called in response to the situation.

WATCH Infection control specialist warns of pressure on Ontario hospitals:

Infection control specialist warns of pressure on Ontario hospitals

2 years ago
Duration 0:52
Ontario needs to really curb the spread of the coronavirus, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam. 'We can't keep getting more COVID patients' in hospital, he said.

A statement from the association said a wave of hospitalizations after the holidays risks disrupting acute care and other services in the new year.

The situation is far more serious than the first wave of infections because elective surgeries need to be maintained, the OHA said.

Meanwhile, a memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately. For hospitals in the province's grey lockdown and red control zones that means clearing up to 15 per cent of their beds for COVID-19 patients.

Matthew Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health, a provincial government agency, said in the memo dated Tuesday that the pandemic has entered a more critical phase with community transmission now widespread.

Anderson said the ability of hospitals to care for patients with and without COVID-19 is being challenged. The memo was sent to every hospital CEO in the province.

The memo tells all hospitals to be ready to activate their "surge capacity plans" within 48 hours.

With files from Mike Crawley and The Canadian Press