Ontario sees 847 new COVID-19 cases as vaccine shipments ramp up

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province can't release detailed timelines for its vaccine rollout because the supply of the shots has been unreliable.

Toronto, Peel and York again see highest levels of new infections in the province

A stay-at-home order is set to remain in place in Toronto until at least Feb. 22. On Wednesday, the city's top doctor said she wants any reopening to be slow. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario is reporting 847 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and has now administered nearly 500,000 doses of vaccine.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said as of 8 p.m. last night, 489,484 doses have been administered. 

However, Elliott said the province can't release detailed timelines for its vaccine rollout because supply of the shots has been unreliable.

The province knows which age groups it wants to prioritize, she said, but delayed deliveries and unclear future supply levels mean its tentative schedule has been changing.

CBC News reported Wednesday that Ontario is not reporting key data to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) that could provide a clearer picture of how the country is doing with its vaccination work. A spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Health said the ministry is working with PHAC to provide more data in "the near future."

The province expects to receive approximately 157,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Wednesday. It's not clear what shipments will look like in future weeks.

The CBC News vaccine tracker shows Ontario has received 523,675 doses in total and fully-vaccinated 1.33 per cent of the population.

While experts say it's too soon to change dosing guidelines, there's also news Wednesday that half doses of Moderna's vaccine offer a "significant" immune response. The Moderna vaccine is one of two options currently approved and being used in Canada to combat the spread of COVID-19, with more than 40 million doses ordered by the federal government. 

The province also reported Wednesday that 10 more people with COVID-19 had died.

However, recoveries continue to outpace new infections for now. Some 1,456 people were marked recovered in the latest update from the province.

The province's long-term care sector, meanwhile, saw far fewer infections. Just three residents and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19, although there are still outbreaks at 156 long-term care homes and 92 retirement homes.

Toronto again saw the highest number of new infections with 257, while Peel confirmed 170 new cases and York saw 131. A stay-at-home order remains in place for these three units, and North Bay-Parry Sound, until at least Feb. 22.

These public health units saw double-digit increases:

  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit: 10
  • Ottawa Public Health: 53
  • Durham Region Health Department: 30
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit: 44
  • Brant County Health Unit: 11
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services: 29
  • Halton Region Public Health: 12
  • Niagara Region Public Health: 10
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services: 18
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health: 12

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the 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.)

Toronto, Peel concerned about reopening plans

Earlier Wednesday, medical officers of health in Peel Region and Toronto expressed concerns about reopening.

In Peel, Dr. Lawrence Loh said he'd like to see it extended by at least two weeks, and again called on the province to put in paid sick leave to ensure ill workers can stay home. Loh also noted there are some 200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in his region that are believed to be linked to more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Officially, the province confirmed 29 more cases of the B117 variant, first detected in the U.K. 

Health officials have warned they expect that variant to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the province in the coming months.

In Toronto, Dr. Eileen de Villa said she wants to see how the pandemic will change now that coronavirus variants are spreading in the community at the same time as schools have reopened.

"We should slow things down," she told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

The health leaders aren't alone in their concerns about reopening leading to a further spread of virus.

WATCH | Dr. Samir Gupta warns coronavirus variants could drive third wave of pandemic:

Specialist fears COVID-19 will roar back after reopenings

1 year ago
Duration 2:14
Respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta says there should be more success demonstrated from lockdowns and vaccinations first before opening economies because coronavirus variants could contribute to a massive third wave.

With files from John Rieti and The Canadian Press


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