Ontario reports 513 new COVID-19 cases as vaccines administered top 20 million

Ontario reported 513 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most since mid-June, while the total number of vaccine doses administered in the province topped 20 million.

113 people treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care

More than 72 per cent of eligible Ontarians have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Health says. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Ontario reported 513 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most since mid-June, while the total number of vaccine doses administered in the province topped 20 million.

According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, 360 of the additional infections, or about 70 per cent, were in unvaccinated individuals. Another 56 of the cases were people who had only one shot of vaccine, she said, while 88 were fully vaccinated.

You may notice that the figures cited by Elliott add up to 504, not 513. The ministry has previously cautioned that the two numbers may not correspond directly because case counts and the data for the vaccination status of individual cases are taken from different sources and collected over a slightly different time frame.

Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimates that the reproduction number — a measure of how many other people a single infected person will go on to infect — sits at 1.55. Values above 1 mean that a pandemic is spreading, rather than contracting. That means that daily cases are expected to double every 8 days or so, the table calculates.

Meanwhile, public health units administered another 49,167 doses of vaccines yesterday, the fewest on a Wednesday since March 10. A total of 20,047,991 shots have been administered in Ontario to date.

Roughly 72.5 per cent of eligible Ontarians — those aged 12 and older — have now had two doses of vaccines.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:

Seven-day rolling average of daily cases: 381.

Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 22,896.

Provincewide test positivity rate: 2.1 per cent.

Active cases: 2,868.

Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 113, up five from yesterday. Overall ICU admissions levelled at about 105 after the third wave of the pandemic, and have been fluctuating between 105 and about 115 since.

Deaths: No new deaths were reported this morning. The official death toll stands at 9,412.

Province adds $2.2B in COVID-19 spending

Meanwhile, Ontario is putting $2.2 billion more toward COVID-19 spending, bracing for the impacts of the Delta variant as the province sees a rising number of cases, largely in unvaccinated people.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the province's 2021-22 first quarter finances Thursday, announcing an additional $2.2 billion for a COVID-19 fund, thanks to a revenue projection that's $2.9 billion higher than in the budget.

"Under normal circumstances and all other factors remaining the same, higher than projected revenue would directly reduce the deficit," he said.

"However, there remains continued uncertainty about variants of concern, the risk of surges and future waves, and the need to target future investments to spur economic recovery."

WATCH | Ontario Chamber of Commerce says vaccine passports will help prevent another shutdown:

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The federal government's planned COVID-19 vaccine passport for foreign travel would also be a great tool inside Canada to avoid another lockdown, says Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The higher revenue is due to $1.9 billion from the federal government and another approximately $1 billion from corporate taxes and land transfer taxes. The deficit projection is being revised by $700 million, down to $32.4 billion.

Bethlenfalvy didn't specify what the $2.2 billion in new spending would go toward, saying it's available for the government to use to protect people's health and the economy as needed.

The lower deficit forecast and stronger economic growth contributed to a lowered net debt-to-GDP ratio, down 0.7 percentage points to 48.1 per cent.

Real GDP increased 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, putting it only 1.8 per cent below the level in the fourth quarter of 2019.

"Ontario's fiscal recovery will be driven by economic growth, and the continued recovery and employment and the modest deficit proven projected today are evidence of that," Bethlenfalvy said.

More universities announce vaccination policies

With only about a month until classes resume, University of Toronto, Queen's University and several other Ontario colleges and universities have announced different COVID-19 vaccine mandates ahead of the upcoming school year, with some creating policies requiring students on campus to be fully vaccinated, while others are asking for vaccination statuses to be shared. 

U of T says it will "require all those intending to be on campus be fully vaccinated."

But some of the school's faculty members criticized the vaccine policy since only students living in residence and those participating in activities such as varsity sports and music performances are required to show an identifiable proof of vaccination.

Everyone else will have to "self-declare" their vaccination status using a screening app.

With files from The Canadian Press


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