Toronto

Ontario reports 1,616 new COVID-19 cases, fewest since March 24

Ontario reported another 1,616 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the fewest on a single day since March 24, and 17 more deaths linked to the illness.

Vaccine appointments opened to people 18+ this morning

Registered nurse Sarah Moslehi prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary clinic in Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported another 1,616 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the fewest on a single day since March 24, and 17 more deaths linked to the illness.

The new cases include 472 in Toronto, 360 in Peel Region, 116 in York Region, 114 in Hamilton and 102 in Durham Region.

The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 2,287, its lowest point in nearly seven weeks. It has been steadily trending downward since its peak on April 17. 

Labs completed 22,915 tests and Public Health Ontario logged a provincewide positivity rate of 7.6 per cent. That's down from the 8.5 per cent positivity rate reported with just over 28,000 tests a week ago. 

As of Monday, there were 1,484 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, up slightly from recent days because not all hospitals report census data on weekends. Overall though, the figure is down from the end of the last work week.

Of those patients, 764 were being treated in intensive care units. That is the fewest since April 19 but still about 344 more than during the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

According to Critical Care Services Ontario, 33 people were admitted to ICUs in the province yesterday. About 73 per cent of ICU patients were on ventilators. 

The additional deaths push the official toll to 8,506. The seven-day average of daily deaths rose slightly to 23.3. 

A spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford confirmed today that Ontario will not return to the province's previous colour-coded reopening framework whenever public health restrictions ease.

Just what reopening efforts will look like is still unclear at this point.

Meanwhile, public health units administered 109,032 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday. As of last night, nearly 56 per cent of Ontario adults had gotten at least one shot.

This morning, eligibility for a vaccine expanded to anyone aged 18 and older in the province. Appointments can be booked through the online portal or call centre or through local health units, depending on where you live. Spots are also available through many pharmacies. 

Shoppers offering rapid tests for $40 — independent from government

Shoppers announced this week it will offer rapid COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic people for $40 a test. While less reliable than testing run by the government through hospitals and pop-up clinics, the pharmacy chain says the tests will be faster and easier to get done. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian pharmacy chain announced this week it will now sell rapid COVID tests made by Abbott Panbio.

The company said it acquired the tests — which rely on a shallow nasal swab to screen for antigens — directly from the company and will offer them in Ontario and Alberta, where its locations have the scope to screen customers.

In Ontario, Shoppers' test results will not intersect with the province's tracking.

"Customers swabs will be processed immediately in the pharmacy, with a record of the procedure and results provided to the customer after their visit," the company said in an email to CBC News.

The Ontario government has millions of rapid tests in storage, but it remains unclear how they'll be used. A recent analysis shows the province has used less than 20 per cent of the tests it received from the federal government, even as experts call for them to be deployed.

One problem with the rapid tests is that they are not as reliable as the diagnostic PCR tests that are administered at testing sites and hospitals and analyzed in labs.

Shoppers is positioning the tests in a news release as a "faster and often more convenient option for customers."

Only asymptomatic people can be tested at Shoppers pharmacies. Anyone with symptoms should be tested the conventional way, and those tests remain free.

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