Ontario reports 1,172 new COVID-19 cases, 67 more deaths linked to illness
Provincewide death toll of people with COVID-19 climbs to 6,305 as stay-at-home order continues
Ontario reported 1,172 new cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of 67 more people with the illness on Wednesday.
While the number of additional cases is again well below the recent average, it's not clear whether the figure is especially reliable. The province cautioned yesterday that instability caused by a data migration of Toronto Public Health (TPH) to Ontario's centralized COVID-19 tracking system could affect counts for several days.
The move meant that TPH reported no new cases yesterday, and Ontario officially logged just 745 total.
The new cases in today's update include 444 in Toronto, 199 in Peel and 110 in York Region, according to the Ministry of Health.
Ontario's network of labs completed 52,418 tests for the virus and recorded a test positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. The positivity rate has been trending downward in the weeks following a provincewide lockdown order that began on Dec. 26.
Noting the caveats above about total case counts, the seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 1,675.
Another 1,745 infections were marked resolved. The number of confirmed, active cases continued its consistent descent, dropping to 16,811. The record high came on Jan. 11, when there were more than 30,000 active cases in the province.
As of yesterday there were 1,066 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, which is down 126 from the day before and marks the lowest number since Jan. 3. The number of patients being treated in intensive care dropped slightly to 336. According to the province's data, total ICU admissions have been slowly but steadily declining for about two weeks.
It should be noted, however, that the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative — a joint effort of scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital — found this week that ICUs in several regions continue to be seriously strained in terms of capacity.
The 67 additional deaths of people with COVID-19 pushed the official toll to 6,305.
The province said it administered another 3,716 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Just 11,503 shots have been given out in Ontario so far this week. Members of the vaccine distribution task force said progress has been hampered by reductions in the size of vaccine shipments arriving to Ontario, and that there is currently capacity to administer up to 40,000 doses each week.
A total of 348,331 shots have been given out as of 8 p.m. yesterday, and nearly 75,000 people have been fully immunized with two doses.
Meanwhile, a photo featuring Premier Doug Ford surrounded by what appeared to be nurses seeking a selfie with him at Pearson Airport surfaced Wednesday, prompting questions about a lack of physical distancing and seemingly improper mask-use by one nurse whose nose was exposed. The photo was taken by Canadian Press photographer Frank Gunn.
Asked for a response, the premier's press secretary responded, "Masks are mandatory indoors. You'll note that every single person in this photo is wearing a mask with some wearing additional PPE."
Ontario Premier <a href="https://twitter.com/fordnation?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@fordnation</a> is surrounded by selfie seeking nurses at the COVID19 testing centre in Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/toronto?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#toronto</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/covid19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#covid19</a> <a href="https://t.co/oACjEqzYST">pic.twitter.com/oACjEqzYST</a>—@frankgunnphoto
Schools in hotspots to reopen Feb. 16
The Ontario government says schools in Toronto, Peel and York Regions will reopen for in-person learning on Tuesday, Feb. 16, while schools outside of the Greater Toronto Area will return to in-person learning on Monday, Feb. 8.
WATCH | Students can go to school safely if some firm rules applied, says specialist:
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Monday that parents need to know if schools will reopen for in-person learning so they have time to prepare.
The province has previously said that schools in five COVID-19 hot spots as well as several other regions would reopen for in-person learning by Feb. 10.
All students in Ontario began January with online learning as part of the provincial lockdown.
The province has since taken a staggered approach to reopening physical classrooms, starting first with Northern Ontario and rural schools where case rates are lower.
With files from The Canadian Press